Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Varanasi today (24 March) and will launch multiple development initiatives, including inaugurating and laying the foundation stones of projects worth over Rs 1,780 crore.
Prime Minister Modi has chosen to represent Varanasi in the Parliament since 2014 and has put a special focus on transforming the landscape of Varanasi and enhancing ease of living for the people living in the city and adjoining areas.
Taking another step in this direction, Prime Minister will dedicate and lay the foundation stone of 28 projects during a programme at Sampurnanand Sanskrit University ground in the city.
Swarajya takes a look at key infrastructure initiatives that are currently under implementation in the home constituency of the Prime Minister.
1. Varanasi Ropeway
The 3.8-km ropeway will be the country’s first urban transport ropeway and connect Varanasi’s Cantonment Railway Station and Godowlia Chowk.
With a carrying capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour per direction, the ropeway will facilitate ease of movement for the tourists, pilgrims and residents of Varanasi.
As per the design, five stations will come up on this corridor at Varanasi Cantonment, Vidya Peeth (Bharatmata Mandir), Rath Yatra, Girja Ghar and Godowlia chowk.
Estimated to cost around Rs 645 crore, the project is being developed by an Indian firm, Vishwa Samudra Engineering supported by its technology partner Bartholet Maschinenbau AG of Switzerland.
Currently, the journey through one of the most congested stretches in the city takes about 60 minutes during peak hours, which will be reduced to about 17 minutes post completion of the ropeway, thus, helping ease the pressure on the existing transport infrastructure.
2. Varanasi-Kolkata Expressway
The 620 km Varanasi-Kolkata expressway will enhance connectivity for the entire eastern India and has an estimated budget of Rs 22,500 crore.
Starting at the junction of NH-19 and Varanasi Ring Road, the access-controlled expressway passes through Bihar and Jharkhand, before terminating at NH-16 near Uluberia in Howrah district in West Bengal.
The alignment of the greenfield expressway is parallel to NH-19 (old NH-2) and connects Chandauli in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Ranchi in Jharkhand, and Howrah (Kolkata) in West Bengal, while traversing a distance of 22 km in UP, 159 km in Bihar, 187 km in Jharkhand and 242 km in Bengal.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has so far invited tenders for 10 packages in UP and Bihar under Hybrid Annuity Mode with two-year deadlines.
The six-lane expressway is targeted for completion by FY 2026-27, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari informed the Parliament in November 2022.
3. Varanasi-Aurangabad-Chordaha Economic Corridor
Starting near Varanasi, the six-lane (expandable to eight-lane) economic corridor passes through Aurangabad in Bihar, before ending at Chordaha on Bihar-Jharkhand border.
The 262-km-long economic corridor is part of GT Road and will be extended to Dhanbad in Jharkhand.
With an estimated cost of Rs 5,000 crore, the NHAI has targeted to completed the stretch till Chordaha by December 2023.
4. Kashi Station Redevelopment
Indian Railways has floated tenders for major upgradation of Kashi Railway Station through engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode.
The project, which is estimated to cost Rs 328 crore and has a construction period of 30 months, aims to create a railway station that is modern yet connected to the city’s traditions.
The redevelopment plan includes relocation of certain station functions and amenities for better utilisation of the premises.
These include consolidation of railway offices and the creation of two station buildings, one on the south-west and one on the north-east side of the tracks, to split the flow of traffic and improve circulation.
Other additions include covered platforms, new arrival foot overbridge, refurbishment of existing infrastructure, and a concourse that provides connectivity to the south-west and north-east station buildings by lifts, escalators, and connecting corridors.
Kashi railway station is in Varanasi district. It is 6 km east of Varanasi Junction railway station, 11 km north-west of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction railway station and 26 km south-east of Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport.
It serves the eastern suburbs of Varanasi district as a major secondary railway station to the Varanasi and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya railway stations.
5. Sigra Sports Stadium
With a view to achieve the twin objectives of mass participation and promotion of excellence in sports, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has approved the project for development and modernisation of Sigra Stadium in Varanasi, at an estimated cost of Rs 315.48 crore under Khelo India Scheme.
The stadium is located in the heart of Varanasi city with a total area of 64,650 square meters (approximately 16 acres).
The project is being implemented in three phases. Phase-I of the project involves creating an International Sports Competition venue, including an Olympic project-size swimming pool, with a spectator capacity of 2,000.
Phase-II and Phase-III of the project for which the foundation stone will be laid down today (24 March) are intended to develop various indoor and outdoor sports facilities.