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Varanasi’s development seems to have stuck in red-tapism

Varanasi(PTI): Prime minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi, which is to be developed into a heritage city is yet to get the attention of the urban development ministry.

Even as the prime minister had promised to elevate and make Varanasi into a world class city on the model of Kyoto in Japan, the Centre has not yet transferred any money out the Rs80crore sanctioned for Varanasi. Under the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HIRDAY) scheme, the urban development ministry had sanctioned Rs500crore for seven heritage cities.

After four meetings in nine months with the Uttar Pradesh government, the said ministry has not managed to move an inch in redeveloping Varanasi.

Redevelopment plan of Varanasi has been the priority of the ministry. But the project seems to have been stuck in red-tapism and lack of political will, by the state governmentto implement the same.

Sources in the ministry say that the chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh and the municipal commissioner of Varanasi do not interact with the ministry on the Varanasi issue. “We have called four meetings. In all these meetings they sent a junior level officer, who has no decision making power,” said an officer of the ministry. As a result no consensus has been reached between the Centre and state on the Varanasi development plan.

“No money has been transferred for the redevelopment of the of the Varanasi city. The state bureaucracy has been working without the involvement of the local government,” said Ramgopal Mohley the mayor of BJP-led municipal corporation in Varanasi.

Mohley also alleged that the state does not take any interest in the Varanasi project. “We have been pushing the state, but the officers do not correspond with us,” he says.

The mayor however informed that the municipal corporation has initiated the process of cleaning three ghats along the river. “Earlier, the money released under the JnNURM we started the work at the
two sewage treatment plants. But after that no fresh flow of funds have taken place,” added the mayor.

The ministry feels that it is the Samajwadi Party who doesn’t show any interest in implementing the project. Lack of Centre and state’s coordination has been a major cause of concern for the ministry.

While the financial year has almost reached an end, the ministry from the budget of Rs578.07 crore allotted for heritage cities has not made any allotment. For the Rs7016.80 crores for smart cities earmarked in this fiscal year, not a penny has been allotted so far.

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