Binay Singh,The Times of India | Sep 5, 2015
VARANASI: The Airports Authority of India will spend a fund of Rs5 crore for sanitation and cleanliness in the temple town Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“For the sustainable cleanliness of the city the Airports Authority of India has come forward to make the holy city clean and beautiful,” said the union minister of state (independent charge) for tourism, culture and civil aviation Dr Mahesh Sharma.
Sharma was here on Saturday to launch the second phase of cleanliness drive ‘Divya Kash’ in the city by involving students, NGOs, corporates and local citizens. He inaugurated the renovated toilet complex constructed by the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation at Ghat, the same place where PM had launched Swachha Bharat campaign in October last year. He admitted that that maintaining cleanliness in cities like Varanasi is a great challenge. Insanitation adversely affects the tourist arrivals, he added.
“We are roping in students, NGOs, corporate houses to keep the city neat and tidy. The investment by the AAI is a step forwards in the same direction, and many corporate houses have shown their interest to join the mission under their corporate social responsibility programme” said the minister adding that suggestions and proposals are being sought from them in this regard. “The AAI will invest the amount in procuring equipment for cleanliness,” said the AAI chairman RK Srivastava, who accompanied the minister. He said that the AAI will work in collaboration with the municipal corporation to meet the challenge. The AAI will maintain the sanitation equipment for next two years, he added.
Under ‘Divya Kashi’ the projects like laser shows at the majestic ghat and Sarnath will be started soon to attract more tourists and elongate their stay in the city, said the minister adding that the entire stretch of ghat will be cleaned on sustainable way along with the provision of toilets. There is a proposal to clean garbage by using boats as garbage disposal is a major problem in the historic city due to narrow lanes. The boats will ferry garbage to dump at certain points, he added. “A special meeting of several ministries under the leadership or union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu will be held in New Delhi on September 10 to discuss the issues of Kashi, he said.
After inaugurating the modern Sulabh toilet complex, Sharma released musical CDs based on Ganga and Varanasi on the occasion. Noted social worker and founder of Sulabh International Dr Bindeshwar Pathak accompanied the minister. He also saw the Sulabh Rath launched for creating awareness among the masses about sanitation. Sulabh has already been runs public toilets for decades and maintaining some of the Ghats. Recently it cleaned Assi Ghat and excavated about 25 steps which were under mud for several decades. The cleaning of the famous Kashi Viswanath Temple is being done by this organisation.
Later Sharma went to Lanka area where he took part in cleanliness drive by students near the main gate of Banaras Hindu University (BHU). From Lanka he went to the parliamentary office of the PM in Ravindrapuri colony to hear public grievances. He also visited the Central Library of BHU and released the digital version of rare manuscripts.