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3 sub-cities in Varanasi's makeover plan

Sunday, 31 August 2014 - 6:30am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Even though the government has yet to officially define what a 'smart city' is, it has finalied a smart city plan for Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi represents the ancient city by the banks of the river Ganga in the Lok Sabha. And he had promised the people of Varanasi a complete makeover during his election campaign earlier this year. With Modi now heading the government, the Varanasi makeover has become a top priority for the urban development ministry. The makeover's significance can be gauged from the fact that Modi chose Kyoto as his first stop during his five-day Japan trip to enlist its support. Under a pact signed on Saturday, Varanasi will be developed as a 'smart city' with cooperation from Kyoto, the Japanese 'smart city' which is a confluence of heritage and modernity.

In the meantime, the urban development ministry is giving finishing touches to its plan for the city and is expected to make a presentation to the PMO in early-September.

According to the ministry's proposed plan, accessed by dna, the city's heritage structures be restored even as its infrastructure is upgraded. Three sub cities — Sarnath, Banaras Hindu University and Airport City — will be carved out as smart sub-cities, interconnected by a network of flyovers. The idea is to ensure that commuting from one sub-city to another does not take more than 30 minutes.

The proposed transport infrastructure also includes a metro rail. An IT park, a skill development centre and an IT research and development centre are also mooted.

The ministry plans to restore the Sarnath Temple, the Jain temples of Varanasi with help from the Archaeological Survey of India. The presentation also talks about the International Centre for Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism studies.

An academy for music and dance and a school of Oriental learning have also been proposed in the smart plan. To promote art and culture, three museums (one each dedicated to textiles, culture and tourism) and a Bhojpuri film festival are on the cards.

The river beautification involves the redevelopment of a 100 ghats in Varanasi. An inland waterway between Allahabad to Kolkata is also proposed.

The ministry hopes to have the final plan ready by October 30. By November 30, the plan is likely to be passed by the Modi cabinet and will likely be launched on December 25, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's brithday. The entire makeover is expected to be complete in three phases, ending by 2019.

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