Varanasi is the mystical town situated on the banks the holy river Ganga. Draped in Orange cloth, its a city where you will find a pandit ever cross road. Varanasi or Kashi as it is called, it is one of the oldest continuously habituated country in the world. Varanasi is one of the holiest and sacred city in Hinduism and is regarded as the Spiritual Capital of India. It is believed that death in the city will bring salvation and thus it is one of the most important pilgrimage centers. Varanasi is home to largely a Hindu population and a minority of Muslims making it an important city from a political point of view. Considering the fact that all of the political parties play the “Religion” and “Minority” card during elections, the city turned into a political battleground when Narendra Modi decided to fight from the city for the Lok Sabha Elections 2014. Locking horns with the ambitious and the current Chief Minister of Delhi – Arvind Kejriwal, Modi emerged victorious. However has the city been benefited by it ? What was the impact of Modi’s win on city, let’s find out.
I have a connection with Benaras and have spent a good part of my childhood there and I visit the city frequently. My recent trip was in 2014 just after Modi won the elections and one of the motives was to find out what impact did the city have after his victory. To my knowledge the road from Railway Station to the city has always been under construction and this time too it was the same. Apart from the roads, the city has had a lot of power-cuts – 6-8 hours on an average. That’s unimaginable for some folks. However the situation of power hasn’t improved a bit. Let me be clear this was in 2014-2015, so I’m not aware of the current scenario.
One of the most ambitious project “Swachh Bharat” was launched by the Prime Minister to promote cleanliness in the country. With the launch of this program, every city, town, village in country saw politicians, school children coming out on the streets with a broom. Well, I’m quite sure the politicians came out just to do a favor to the paparazzi. The scheme has definitely seen some clean neighborhoods. At least, I got to see it Hyderabad. I received a couple of dust bins from GHMC couple of months ago. So yeah, it works. But has it had an impact on every place ?
Yesterday, the results of Swachh Survekshna – a nationwide survey conducted to gauge the impact of Swachh Bharat – were announced. Mysuru, Chandigarh and Visakhapatnam were few of the cleanest cities. Vizag deserved it, one of cleanest cities I’ve been to. However Varanasi amongst the toppers – but from the bottom. It was one of the dirtiest cities in India. Not surprised at all. With no intention of harming anyone’s sentiments, I would say that the river it self very dirty, and people coming and taking a dip is something I can’t imagine. Even the lanes leading to the river are not in a great conditions. Garbage and open toilets, the city isn’t clean. I remember I had to pee in one of the dirtiest open toilets, opposite to the chowk leading to Dashashwamedh ghat. On paper the toilet is there, but in reality its not at all in a condition to be used ! The Swachh Bharat impact was no where to be seen in on the holiest city of India.
The effect of the Ganga Action Plan is nowhere to be seen in the city either, even though the plan was launched years ago. I wonder how many years it will take for Varanasi to get in the top 10 of the cleanest cities. With these results it’s clear that the impact of Swachh Bharat wasn’t seen in the city, seeing a clean Varanasi is still a distant dream…