Varanasi, often called spiritual capital of the country, is set for a big smart city makeover. Varanasi is PM Narendra Modi’s constituency and the smart city development plan for it has been planned on the following principles: ‘Suramya Kashi (picturesque); Samunnat Kashi (progressive); Surakshit Kashi (secure); Sanyojit Kashi (organized); Nirmal Kashi (pure) and Ekikrit Kashi (unified)’. Varanasi is known for its ancient customs and traditions and it would be interesting to witness how it is adopting the change. There is no doubt that PM Modi has brought the world’s attention to Varanasi. With a flourishing tourism industry, which aims to increase the footfalls by over 25 per cent, Varanasi has all the elements to become a unique smart city. Each year about 65 lakh tourists visit the Varanasi city.
The entire concept of Varanasi smart city project will be focused on Varanasi’s socio-economic growth, cleanliness, smooth traffic movement, Nitin Bansal, Commissioner, Varanasi Municipal Corporation and CEO Varanasi Smart City project tells FE Online. The total estimated cost of the Varanasi smart city proposal is Rs 2,520 crore, which will be spent on the rejuvenation of ghats, infrastructure and e-governance. For area development there will be an estimated budget of Rs 1,659 crore and for pan-city solutions there is a budget of Rs 618 crore. As per guidelines, the duration of the Smart City Mission is five years, from 2015 to 2020. Till now Varanasi has completed 16 projects.
Ganga ghats – key attraction for everyone
Varanasi is famous for its Ganga ghats. Redevelopment of ghats – from Panchaganga ghat to Assi ghat will be done. There will also be ‘impactful’ redevelopment of world-famous Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi. (See map) Bansal elaborates a plan for their redevelopment – a length of 3.5 kms will be restored to its natural glory at superficial level by scrapping unwanted paints, filling up the cracks by approved material, renovating and repairing any surface. “There will also be a dress changing room on the boats to protect the ghats from waste disposal,” he adds.
Varanasi Smart City project: Special features
Bansal tells FE Online that PM Modi’s constituency will be different from other smart cities of India. According to Bansal, the city needs to maintain its ancient characteristics and retail the spiritual part as tourist mainly visit the city becuase of the Kashi Vishwanath temple and world famous Ganga-ghats. Single station IT solutions for managing city; 2W only parking based on local mobility dynamics; decongesting streets by moving stray cattle to a designated natural setting with veterinary/shelter facilities outside city; Kund rejuvenation; age old ghats’ restoration; under the flyover placemaking; beautification of water tanks; PMAY housing projects; consolidation of 4 existing different land uses into integrated business district (Town Hall City Center); Redevelopment of very old Police Stations; Improvement of livelihood of weaver communities by better eye sight – these are some of the special features of the Varanasi smart city project.
Bansal says there will be a number of technological things that will be introduced like data centers, interoperable command & control center, surveillance and traffic camera, traffic control systems and e-challans. In addition, there will also be tracking of vehicles and bins for SWM, environment sensors; multilevel integrated parking; automated centrally regulated street lighting; e-governance integrated with Portal and Mobile app. With regards to the redevelopment of old buildings and structures, Bansal explains that since the project focuses on available individual plots, major roads are being redesigned within the existing “right of way” without any width extension and no demolition of adjacent properties. (See map above)