The Ram Temple in Ayodhya may only be ready by the end of 2023 but another project close to the prime minister’s heart — the Kashi Vishwanath Dham Project in Varanasi — will be compete by this November and a grand inauguration of the same may be done by PM Narendra Modi before the 2022 Uttar Pradesh elections.
Modi launched the Rs 400 crore project in his parliamentary constituency in March 2018, which is being anchored around Lord Shiva’s ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple. The idea is to preserve existing heritage structures, provide new facilities in the temple complex in the PPP mode, ease the traffic and movement of people around the temple and connecting the temple with the Manikarna Ganga Ghat through a corridor with direct visibility.
The focus is high as Home Minister Amit Shah had reviewed the project while visiting Varanasi on August 1, while Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath did so in Varanasi on Thursday.
The Shri Kashi Vishwanath Vishist Kshetra Vikas Parishad Board on Thursday also invited bids for appointing a private consultant for handling the operational planning and ensuring a “memorable pilgrim experience” through the Kashi Vishwanath Dham project.
“The project is already at an advance stage of completion and it is expected that majority of the built infrastructure will be fully constructed by end of November 2021. Hence the Board intends to appoint a consultant for effective operational planning, support in implementation and monitoring of the plan,” says the bid document reviewed by News18.
What All is Being Built
The project involves building multiple amenities for pilgrims such as yatri suvidha kendras, guesthouses, hospice, library, and museum. The project also pays attention to public toilets and provides for a good number of them at places where pilgrims throng, plans for extensive security arrangements, separate buildings for security personnel and a widened emergency entrance for vehicles and ambulances to enter the temple area.
As per the document reviewed by News18, the various facilities that are being built in the premises include a Ganga-view Cafe, a Mandir Chowk surrounded by emporium space at three floors, food courts, shops, spiritual bookstore, a VIP Guest House, Mumukshu Bhawan, Vedic Kendra, Bhog Shaala, a tourist facilitation centre, three yatri suvidha kendras, toilet blocks, a spiritual bookstore and two museums — city museum and Varanasi gallery. “Each of the facility listed above will be operated by the Parishad through appointment of appropriate partner from the private sector in whole or in parts,” says the bid document.
The Consultant’s Job
The consultant will be asked to identify innovative ideas and solutions that can improve the pilgrim experience and ensure the best possible use for the operational area. This will include pedestrian movement planning for the visiting pilgrims ensuring least wait, travel and walking time and comfortable holding zones, as well as crowd management and emergency operational procedures and better experiences around the religious rituals.
The consultant will also ensure planning for universal accessibility, access control especially in peak days like Mahashivratri festival and Shrawan Mela, skilling opportunities for the stakeholders like local pandits and free Wi-Fi zones. The consultant will also develop value propositions through partnerships with civil society organisations corporates, donors, telecom companies and educational and research institutes.
“Examples are tie-ups with Google Maps, Inland Waterways (and related service providers), Wi-Fi service providers, RO water, sanitation, volunteers, etc., to achieve the goal ‘For the people, by the people, of the people’,” as per the bid document.