Har Har Mahadev!
Kashi is known for 'Saat var, Nau Tyohar' i.e. nine festivals in seven days of a week. That means, new festivals are celebrated here every day. Greetings to all of you gathered here on this occasion today!
Governor of Uttar Pradesh Anandiben Patel ji, Hon'ble Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ji, Ministers of UP Government, MPs, all MLAs, and my brothers and sisters of Benares!
I first want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. During the Assembly elections, I had come to you and had asked for your help in forming the government again in Uttar Pradesh. I am overwhelmed with the highly enthusiastic support you, the people of Uttar Pradesh and the people of Kashi have given me. So, I have come here to you today for the first time after the elections. I wish to thank the people of Kashi, the people of Uttar Pradesh from the bottom of my heart and congratulate them.
Today, we are once again giving impetus to the festival of development that has been going on for the last eight years in the divine, magnificent and brand new Kashi. Kashi has always been vibrant and constantly thriving. Now Kashi has painted a picture of both heritage and development before the whole country; a heritage that is constantly being made grand, divine and innovative; development that is constantly spreading to the streets, ponds, ghats and paths of Kashi, as well as to the railway station and airport.
As soon as one project ends in Kashi, four new projects start. Even today, dozens of projects worth over Rs 1,700 crore have been inaugurated and foundation stones have been laid here. Projects worth thousands of crores for roads, water, electricity, health, education, sanitation and beautification have been completed in Kashi. So, the work on projects worth thousands of crores of rupees is constantly going on.
Brothers and sisters,
The soul of Kashi is indestructible, but we are constantly trying to reform its structure. Our objective of development is to make Kashi more dynamic, progressive and sensitive. The modern infrastructure of Kashi is enhancing its dynamism. Development happens at a fast pace when education, skills, environment, sanitation and trade are encouraged; new institutions are built and the divinity of sacred places associated with spirituality is combined with modern grandeur. At the same time when the poor gets access to facilities like houses, electricity, water, gas, toilets and everyone like sailors, weavers, artisans, street vendors and the homeless reap the benefits, that is when development is considered as inclusive.
The launches and the foundation stone laying ceremonies that took place during the programme today reflect dynamism, progressiveness, and sensitivity. My Kashi is the best example of 'Sabka Saath, sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas'.
Brothers and sisters,
You have also given me the opportunity to serve by making me your MP. So when you do something good, it doubles my happiness. I am really glad to see the way the conscious citizens of Kashi have given a direction to the country. The citizens of Kashi have sent a message to the entire country that short-cuts cannot benefit the country. It might benefit some leaders but not the country or the people.
I still remember after coming to Kashi in 2014, people would come and ask questions like - "There is so much mess here, how would it all be fixed?" That’s what people would ask, right? Their concerns were justified. There was room for improvement and change everywhere in Varanasi. It seemed pretty clear that nothing had been done for decades to improve the situation in Varanasi. In such a scenario, it was very easy for someone else to take short-cuts like giving away some doles to the people but he couldn't think of anything beyond that. Who would work so hard?
But I want to praise the people of Benares for showing the right path and choosing the right path. They have unequivocally demanded the kind of work that should not only fix the present but also benefit Varanasi for several decades in the future.
My dear brothers and sisters of Kashi,
Is the work being done going to be useful for the future or not? Is it going to be useful to future generations or not? Is it going to brighten the future of the youth here? Will it draw the whole of India towards Kashi or not? Will the whole of India come and visit Kashi or not?
Today we can see that when there is a long-term planning, we get discernible results. In the past eight years, where has the infrastructure of Kashi reached? This is benefitting farmers, labourers and traders. Trade is growing, turnover is increasing and tourism is expanding.
The rickshaw puller says, “Sir, I am getting sufficient work all day long". The trader says, “Sir, in just one month goods worth six months are being sold”. Is this true or not? Has the pace accelerated or not? And as these roads are being constructed, the houses are being built for the poor, the pipelines are being laid, and the businesses of the small shopkeepers as well as of the construction related industries like cement and steel are also growing. In other words, it is also becoming a huge source of employment in Varanasi and the entire region.
The far-sightedness of the people of Varanasi is now benefitting the entire region. Today, if you look around Kashi, then Ring Road, Broad National Highway, Babatpur City Link Road, Ashapur ROB, Chaukaghat-Lahartara Flyover and Mahmoorganj-Manduadih Flyover are making the lives of the people of Varanasi so easy. When the Rail Over Bridge over Varuna is completed, this facility is going to improve further.
Today the work of widening 3 more roads of Kashi has started. With this, it will be easy to travel from many districts like Mau, Azamgarh, Ghazipur, Ballia, Bhadohi, Mirzapur and the problem of traffic jam in Kashi will also be minimized.
Brothers & Sisters,
In order to connect these broad roads of the cities with the surrounding villages, the foundation stone of 9 roads has also been laid today. These roads will remove the difficulties faced by the farmers and youth of nearby villages in coming to the city during the rainy season.
The work that Yogi ji's government is doing on widening of roads to connect the tehsil and block headquarters with the district headquarters, is also commendable. Today, work has also started on the widening of the road connecting Sewapuri to Varanasi. When this is completed, all the tehsils and block headquarters of Varanasi district will be connected by 7 meter wide roads.
Brothers & Sisters,
Now Monsoon is very close. Baba's devotees from all over the country and the world are going to come to Kashi in large numbers. This will be the first Sawan festival after the completion of Vishwanath Dham project. You have experienced the kind of enthusiasm the whole world holds about the Vishwanath Dham in the past few months.
Yogi ji was telling me that despite the hot weather, lakhs of devotees are coming to Kashi Vishwanath Dham every day now. Even during this period, devotees of Baba will get the experience of a divine, grand and a new Kashi here.
Brothers & Sisters,
It is our commitment to provide uninterrupted experience of devotion and spirituality in Kashi to the devotees and tourists from all over the world. Earlier, when a pilgrim used to visit our place, people in the villages used to invite him to their houses and feed him. They used to serve the pilgrim in every possible way. A similar tradition was there in Kashi too. The idea was to not let the devotee face any kind of inconvenience.
Our government is also working with this same spirit. The government is creating facilities for every pilgrimage like Kashi Bhairav Yatra, Nav-Gauri Yatra, Navdurga Yatra, Ashtavinayak Yatra to provide the devotees with a smooth experience. On the way to Panchkosi Parikrama, arrangements are being made for a pilgrim's rest and ease of worship at several places. Be it the identity of Kashi, or making its streets and ghats clean or the resolution to make river Ganga clean, work is going on at a fast pace.
Brothers & Sisters,
For us, development doesn't mean pomp and show. For us, development means empowerment of the poor, downtrodden, deprived, backward, tribal, mothers and sisters. Today more than 600 poor families of Varanasi have got their pucca house under PM Awas Yojana. That is, we have 600 new lakhpatis. Heartiest congratulations to those whose dream of a home has been fulfilled today! And congratulations to the mothers and sisters of those families in particular because we are trying to ensure that the house constructed should be in the name of mothers and sisters of the household.
We are working fast on these resolutions to provide a pucca house to every poor family and to connect every rural family with piped water supply. Work has started on dozens of water projects under the Jal Jeevan Mission. Thousands of families, especially sisters, will be greatly benefited by this. The spirit of 'development for all' will be strengthened by the shelter home for destitute mothers, sisters and daughters.
Brothers & Sisters,
Such inclusive development and all round development is nothing but good governance. You see, a lot of difficulties were faced by the small businesses and the street vendors. Now the Gaurav Path has also been built between Godowlia to Dashashwamedh. Now a Dashashwamedh complex is also going to be built there. This complex will provide facilities to the street vendors for selling their products. A special vending-zone of about 2 km length is being developed below the Chaukaghat-Lahartara flyover. In Sarnath, the work of setting up a Buddhist circuit has started from today. There will also be development of special facilities for street vendors.
You must have heard a lot about systems like SEZ and economic corridors, but now you are seeing special zones created for street vendors in Kashi. Moreover, for the first time, street vendors have started getting bank loans under PM Svanidhi Yojana. So far, about 33 lakh companions have got easy loans under this scheme across the country, out of which thousands of friends are from Kashi.
Our government has always tried to solve the problems of the poor and has tried to support them at all times. From providing free corona vaccines to the provision of free ration to the poor, the government has left no opportunity to serve you. The poor and the middle class have benefitted immensely with the way the digital infrastructure has been improved over the years.
Today the people of Varanasi are witness to the way mobile phones have become cheaper and making calls has become almost free. Now the internet has become very cheap, life is getting easier and new means of earning have opened up. The number of phone and internet users is increasing day by day in the country. As a result, the businesses related to it are also expanding.
Employment opportunities have been created for the youth in the services related to it at a very low investment. Similarly, the free treatment up to Rs 5 lakh has made the poor stress-free. With this, even those poor people who used to avoid getting treatment earlier due to lack of money, have now managed to muster the courage to go to the hospitals. That is, the demand for hospitals is increasing; the demand for medical colleges is increasing. In the last few years, we have set up dozens of new medical colleges in UP itself. Here in Kashi itself, a huge network of modern treatment has been formed for cancer and all other diseases.
On one hand we are expanding the facilities for CNG-run vehicles to make the cities of the country smoke-free. On the other hand, we are also giving the option to the sailors who are concerned about Gangaji for converting the diesel and petrol boats into CNG. The country's first CNG station located at a ghat is in Kashi and Kashi feels proud of it. Of the 650 diesel-petrol boats, 500 have been connected with the facility of CNG.
With this facility, tourists will get the pleasure of seeing Ganga ji in peace and the environment will also be benefitted. At the same time, the expenditure of the sailors on fuel will also come down significantly. That is, the avenues of earning more in less expenditure will open up.
Brothers & Sisters,
Kashi has not only been a city of knowledge, devotion and spirituality, but it also has a rich tradition of sports. And today I was able to meet all the players throughout my journey from the airport till here. All the players are sitting there in front of me. There is a whole bunch of players on this side too. Today I can see their enthusiasm. I believe that this stadium which is being built in Kashi is now going to take Kashi to new heights. The arenas here are promoting fitness through exercise and wrestling. Even today, on the day of Nag Panchami, we can see glimpses from the past in these arenas.
But sports is not only a means of fitness and entertainment, but also a great medium to increase the pride of the nation and to have a better career. Over the years, many players from Purvanchal, including Varanasi, have performed well at the international level. It is the constant effort of the government to ensure that modern facilities for every sport related to Olympics are ready and available in Kashi.
The stadium at which we are holding this public meeting today is going to be equipped with world class facilities very soon. The facilities of the 21st century will be added to this stadium built 6 decades ago. It will have ultra modern indoor facilities for more than 20 games. Arrangements like best training setup, fitness center and hostel will also be found here.
There will also be a ‘kids’ zone’ for the children, so that they get excited about sports and fitness, and can develop their inclination towards professional sports at an early age. The entire complex will also support Para Games besides having modern facilities. The modern facilities for athletics and basketball at Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Sports Complex will also be of great help to the young players.
Brothers & Sisters,
We all have to make efforts for this stream of continuous development of Kashi to flow like Gangaji. Yes, the pledge we have taken for the cleanliness of Kashi and Ganga ji should never be forgotten. Will you keep it in mind? Just raise both your hands and say - will you keep it in mind? Will our Kashi remain clean? Will our Kashi be clean? Will our mother Ganga remain clean or not? No one will pollute it, right? No one will let it get polluted, right? This is our Kashi; we have to save Kashi; we need to build Kashi, and we all will do it together.
It is the responsibility of all of us, the residents of Kashi, to keep the roads, ghats and markets clean. I am confident that with the blessings of Baba Vishwanath and the trust of the people of Kashi, we will fulfil every resolution. Once again my heartiest congratulations to all of you!
Har Har Mahadev! Thank you!