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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  The ghats of Varanasi get a makeover

The ghats of Varanasi get a makeover

The change started after PM Narendra Modi wielding a broom at Varanasi's Assi Ghat in November 2014 as part of a ghat clean-up campaign

A file photo of Assi Ghat. The Uttar Pradesh government has imposed heavy fines for spitting, littering on Varanasi ghats. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/MintPremium
A file photo of Assi Ghat. The Uttar Pradesh government has imposed heavy fines for spitting, littering on Varanasi ghats. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Varanasi: Banaras apne ghat, saari aur paan ke liye sabse mashoor hai (The ghats’ saaris and paan of Varanasi are famous)," said 21-year-old Deepak, a boatman, operating near Varanasi’s 84 ghats which line the river Ganges, which is also worshipped by Hindu pilgrims. But now it offers another attraction—cleanliness. “In the last two-and-a-half years, there has been some improvements. If you see the number of dustbins and people cleaning the ghats have increased," Deepak, who has been working near the ghats for the last eight years, said.

In November 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off the campaign by personally wielding a broom at Assi Ghat. With the state government doing its bit, the ghats of Varanasi have got a welcome makeover.

Since then, not just Assi Ghat, but several others have been lined with steel dustbins to ensure less littering. In addition the state government has imposed heavy fines for spitting and littering. Further, corporate social responsibility has induced a number of companies have taken up projects to clean the ghats.

Temsutula Imsong | The DIY cleanliness warrior

The 2,500-km-long river originates in the Himalayas and ends in the Bay of Bengal in the east, after passing through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The largest portion of the river is in the state of Uttar Pradesh which accounts for nearly 1,000 km.

Along with its tributaries, the river covers approximately 11 states and has various places of religious and industrial importance along its banks. Residents say while the effort to clean the ghats is showing visible results, the same is not true for the river. “Cleaning Ganga was a big promise of PM Modi when he was elected from Varanasi. Since then, the general cleanliness in the ghats has improved. However, there has not been much effort to clean the river," Pankaj Rai, an advocate and resident of Varanasi said.

Photo essay | Bringing life back to the ‘ghats’

Understandable, given that untreated effluents from 764 industries and sewage from 56 cities and 31 towns are discharged into the Ganges, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. Cleaning the river will entail fixing the source of effluents.

To be sure, the central government also launched the Namami Gange (Clean Ganga) Mission in 2014, a manifesto promise of the National Democratic Alliance at the centre, to clean the national river.

Analysts say the assembly polls have brought the focus back to the river. “While the projects to clean Ganga have been ongoing for a while, the elections have once again brought the issue back in focus and this will give a boost to the project and increase accountability. There have been some positive changes but not to the extent that was expected," said Kavita Shah, coordinator, Banaras Hindu University’s Madan Mohan Malviya Research Centre for Ganga, river development and water resource management.

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Published: 07 Mar 2017, 04:25 AM IST
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