The streets are be­ing dug up to ex­e­cute the power min­istry’s mega plan to go com­pletely un­der­ground with power ca­bles.

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Karsada is com­post­ing about 600 tonnes of garbage ev­ery day.

Of the 9,702 in­di­vid­ual house­holds aimed to be made open defe­ca­tion free un­der Swachch Bharat tar­gets, only about one-fourth are done so far. But Varanasi mu­nic­i­pal­ity said it will cov­er­all­re­main­ingones­byDe­cem­ber 2017. The city has built 75 new pub­lic toi­lets,tak­ing­th­eto­tal­num­ber­to­more than 170. It has also planned 600 new uri­nal­swith­one-fifthof them­for­women. A Kashi toi­let lo­ca­tor app is un­der devel­op­ment to help tourists lo­cate near­est wash­rooms.

“The city is get­ting cleaner mainly be­cause they are con­stantly telling us that we need to make Ba­naras clean — for us, and for the tourists who are im­por­tant for the liveli­hoods of many in thisc­ity,”atourist­guideof 10yearstold ET. “Tourists I work with keep talk­ing about need for clean wash­rooms and dust­bins, and that is be­gin­ning to hap­pen now with PM Modi mak­ing it his mis­sion,” the per­son said.

A lassi ven­dor near a dug-up road point­ed­toaSin­tex­dust­bin­n­earhisstall and said, “They in­stalled this dust­bin here and just told me to ask all peo­ple to drop their garbage there. I am sit­ting he­re­all­dayand­haves­tart­e­dremind­ing peo­ple. They don’t mind lis­ten­ing.”

Un­der the Cen­tre’s Her­itage City Devel­op­ment and Aug­men­ta­tion Yo­jana(HRIDAY),Rs90crore­has­been al­lo­cated for the city. Mayor Ram Gopal Moh­ley said the an­cient Durga Kund is be­ing re­done. Her­itage poles are­comin­gu­pand­fa­cadesof her­itage build­ing are be­ing re­paired.

Mu­nic­i­pal com­mis­sioner Shri­hari Pratap Shahi said 34 ma­jor roads are bein­gup­grad­e­dun­derHRIDAY,86ma­jor points in the city, in­clud­ing Bharat MataMandi­randQueen­sCol­lege,are beingim­proved.“Bytheyearend,this should be com­pleted. We are also go­ing to start her­itage mu­sic walk soon,” Shahi told ET.

The streets are be­ing dug up to ex­e­cuteth­e­p­ow­er­min­istry’smega­planto go­com­plete­lyun­der­ground­with­power ca­bles. One mo­halla al­ready has all its power ca­bles un­der­ground, and if things do go to plan, by mid-2018 most of thedig­ging­would­have­g­iven­wayto colonies with­out power ca­bles hang­ing over­head.

As much as peo­ple in the city com­plain about the in­con­ve­nience caused by the phys­i­cal up­heaval on in the city, most also feel op­ti­mistic about the end re­sult. “This dig­ging is end­less and ev­ery­where… I am only hop­ing this will end soon and this city will be live­able again,” said Satya Narayan Mishra who run­sau­ton­eartheghatarea.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity is in a dif­fi­cult spot over the sewage it gen­er­ates, treats and dumps into Ganga. Es­ti­mates are that by 2018, it will be able to put in place a sewage treat­ment sys­tem to at least han­dle the sewage gen­er­ated as on date by the city. Varanasi cre­ates 330 mld sewage per year against a treat­ment ca­pac­ity of no more than 110 mld — a fig­ure un­changed since 1986.

A main sewer line that has been laid went too deep and will re­quire to be pumped up to a lo­ca­tion be­fore it can be utilised. For this it needs 50-100 acres of land. The mu­nic­i­pal com­mis­sioner con­ceded this was a prob­lem, and said ev­ery ef­fort is be­ing made to ac­quire land at the ear­li­est.

The Varanasi ring road pro­ject, meant to de­con­gest the city, was to be com­pleted by mid-2017, but that too is de­layed­due­tolan­dac­qui­si­tion­trou­ble.

Varanasi dis­trict mag­is­trate Yo­gesh­war Ram Mishra, how­ever, told ET that most of the is­sues had been sorted out fol­low­ing a re­cent favourable or­der by the High Court and things will get mov­ing post elec­tions.

Mayor Moh­ley, a BJP leader, blamed the state gov­ern­ment for the de­lays. “The state gov­ern­ment is not al­ways co­op­er­a­tive. Still, we are hope­ful by 2018, Varanasi will be a highly im­proved and beau­ti­ful city,” he told ET.

The DM, how­ever, cat­e­gor­i­cally re­jected any co­or­di­na­tion is­sues be­tween the Cen­tre and the state. “There is a lot get­ting done in a small city at the same time. You will see the first set of re­sults by mid-2017 it­self,” Mishra said.

As of now, the DM said, the big­gest chal­lenge in the city was traf­fic man­age­ment and pre­vent­ing en­croach­ment — an in­con­ve­nience that will stay un­til ‘Model Varanasi’ strug­gles its way out of dug-up roads.

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