Har Har Mahadev!
Present in the program are the popular and useful for the masses Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath ji, my colleague in the cabinet, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri ji, Ministers in the UP government, Shri Ashutosh Tandon ji and Neelkanth Tiwari ji, Chairman of the All India Mayor Council Shri Naveen Jain ji, all the mayors present in Kashi and in other parts of the country, other dignitaries, brothers and sisters,
Being an MP of Kashi, I warmly welcome all of you. It would have been very fortunate for me to welcome you personally in Kashi. Due to time constraints, I am not present there to welcome you, but I am sure the people of Kashi would have left no stone unturned in your hospitality. They would have taken utmost care of you. If there is any shortcoming, it would not be the fault of the people of Kashi, but mine and therefore you would excuse me. I hope you will enjoy this conference and will share your experiences for the bright future of the cities of India and will also learn many things from each other. I firmly believe that you will leave no stone unturned to create your cities vibrant and beautiful in your own way. All the mayors must have the desire to contribute something or the other for their respective cities during their tenure. You would definitely want to leave an imprint of your work in your city so that people remember you even after 5-20-50 years. Everyone should have this dream and resolve that your works should become memorable and you should commit to this resolution wholeheartedly. When the people have entrusted the responsibility of the entire city on us, then we should try to fulfill it. I am sure all of you would certainly do something in that direction. You would have to continue with your efforts for good results. I congratulate the Ministry of Urban Development, the Government of UP and all of you that you have chosen Banaras, my Kashi, for this important program. When your resolutions for the development of the country will be blessed by Baba Vishwanath, you would return with a new inspiration and new enthusiasm. I look forward to this program in Kashi with many possibilities. On the one hand, Banaras being one of the oldest cities in the world, and on the other hand, the blueprint for the modern cities of modern India! Recently, when I was in Kashi, I had said that the development of Kashi can become a roadmap for the development of the entire country. Most of the cities in our country are traditional cities and have developed in a traditional way. In this era of modernization, the antiquity of these cities is equally important. We can learn a lot from every street, stone, moment and history of our ancient cities. We can make their historical experiences the inspiration of our life. We can develop new ways to preserve and beautify our heritage. We can learn how to advance our local art skills and products and make them the hallmark of the city!
When you visit Banaras and many of you must have visited it earlier, you would definitely come across new changes and compare with the old memories. And at the same time, your city will also come to your mind. You would try to compare the street and river of Kashi with your city and discuss it with your fellow mayors. You will get new ideas and programs while discussing with them. And when the mayor would replicate that work in his city, the people of your city and state will be very happy and will get a new belief. We should try to believe in evolution, India does not need revolution today. We need rejuvenation because this is not our way to demolish everything that is old. We should make efforts to move forward by sprucing up the old and meeting the needs of the modern age. As you see, there is a cleanliness campaign across the country and every year the cleanest city is declared. While some cities have established themselves, some other cities have given up on the premise that the award would go to a particular city. This mentality should not be there that we will not be able to do it. All the mayors should take a pledge that you will not be second to anyone in the competition of cleanliness next time. Can you make this resolution or not? While giving prizes to the cleanest cities and recognizing them, I would request Hardeep Puri ji that we should simultaneously also recognize those cities which are trying their best. At the same time, we should make a list of three poor performing cities and advertise in those states about their failure to do anything for cleanliness. It will lead to pressure from the people and then they would be spurred to do something for the better. I would request the mayors not to look at cleanliness as a year-long program. Can you organize a cleanliness competition among municipal boards every month? A jury should be formed which should evaluate the performance of these boards. If such a competition is there among the board councilors it will have a cumulative effect and will be useful in changing the appearance of the entire city. Beautification is another important element of cleanliness. I am not referring to the beauty pageants happening across the world. Beautification campaigns can be launched. Cleanliness and aesthetics can be a perimeter. Every city should form a jury. There can be a competition as to how the walls have been painted, how the display boards have been placed on the shops, how the signage of the streets and addresses has been written. There are many such things. There are three things which you can get it done from a common man during the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence. First, a Rangoli competition based on some event of the independence can be organised. There should be competition at the city level. Create an atmosphere till January 26 next year. Similarly, a song competition can be held based on the events related to the freedom movement in your city. In the same vein, a program can be organized involving our mothers and daughters. We used to have an old tradition of singing lullabies for newborns. Can we make modern lullabies? What will be the future of India when the country will be 100 years old in 2047, what will be the dreams of the child who is born today to whom his mother is reciting the lullaby? She should recite the lullaby of a bright future and make him cultured from the beginning. Can we do this? Yesterday, you must have seen the ghats of the Ganges. Tourists from across the world come to Kashi. Mother Ganges has a huge role in running the economy of Kashi. The rejuvenation work at the banks of Mother Ganges gives strength to the economy of Kashi. There are several cities which are on the banks of some rivers, but over a period of time, that river lost its complexion, and many of them have become dirty drains. We should adopt a very sensitive approach towards these rivers. At a time when the entire world is talking about water crisis, global warming and climate change and if we don’t care about those rivers then how can we be proud of them?
Can we organize a river festival for seven days every year? The entire city should be involved in the program which can be related to cleaning the river, or creating awareness regarding the history of the river, or incidents related to the river. There can be a gathering of poets. We should not take the river lightly which has been at the centre of the journey of development of the city. You will notice a new life will be infused to your city and there will be a new enthusiasm towards the importance of the river.
Similarly, you must have noticed how aware we are in our cities regarding the single use plastic. We should explain to the shopkeepers and traders not to use single use plastic anywhere in our city. Let's take it out of the system and instead use the paper bags made of newspaper waste by the poor. Either use it or make it a habit to take a bag from home while going shopping. And now the importance of the circular economy is increasing all over the world, making the best out of the waste. Sometimes there can be a competition in the city to make the best out of the waste and organize an exhibition or a marketing fair. You must have seen many designers making wonderful things out of discarded products. And if placed at crossroads, it becomes a monument. The waste management can also become a revenue model. We should work towards how that model can be developed as some cities have done it. Similarly, sewage water can be reused. We use water in gardens today. You can imagine what will happen if the farmers of the village stop getting water and we demand water for the city.
Where drinking water is not required like in gardens, the treated sewage water can be used. The waste will be converted into wealth and the dirt of the water will also be removed. There will be a substantial change in the health of the city too. If we do not emphasize on these preventive things for the health of the cities, then no matter how many hospitals we build, that will not be enough. Therefore, we should endeavor to keep our city clean and healthy. We should not throw the garbage from our kitchens, streets and construction sites at any designated place. We should endeavor to innovate. For example, a modern model of sewage water treatment has been developed in Surat. The sewage water is being sold to the industry after treatment and the local body is making money. Something like that must be happening in other cities as well. Since I was aware of it, I mentioned it. The cities can maximize their revenue. We should also try to find out the birth date of our cities, some records will be available somewhere. The birthday of the city should be celebrated with great pomp. There should be many competitions for the pride of the city. There should be a spirit among every citizen to do something for the city. Otherwise, what happens is that we discuss unimportant things.
Yogi ji was mentioning LED bulbs in his speech. Can you ensure that there will not be a single pole in your city that does not have an LED bulb? You will find that the electricity bill of the municipal corporation will be reduced completely and the glow of the light will also be different. You have to make sure that this campaign should be completed in two or three months. Similarly, you can approach the voters. If there is use of LED bulbs in middle class families, their monthly electricity bill will come down drastically and they will be able to save between 200-2000 rupees. We need to make efforts in this direction and there are already several schemes available.
India is celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence. There should be public participation in the development of the city and we should give emphasis on it. Involve NCC units in schools. There would be different statues of Babasaheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Maharana Pratap or Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at different places. We are very conscious when we install the statues. But after a while, nobody is bothered. It is only on the birth anniversary that we remember them. NCC teams should be formed in groups who should be assigned with the cleaning of the statues. Children visiting those statues should be briefed about the contribution of these personalities. These are small things but have the great power to change the entire city.
This Amrit Mahotsav of Freedom has come in your tenure. Similarly, you can make a unique monument that is compatible with the freedom movement or which highlights the bright future of India and that can be installed at an important intersection. This should be done with public-private partnership and not with the government money. There should be a competition and the best designs should be awarded. The designers will leave a memory of their life. Don’t you think that your city should have an identity? There may be a city which is known for its particular food item. For example, the Banarasi Paan! Somebody must have worked hard, and therefore, it has become an identity. Maybe all these mayors will also taste the paan of Banaras. What I mean to say is that there will be some products, some historical places which you can brand in your city.
Uttar Pradesh is running a very commendable program called One District, One Product. It has mapped one particular product of a district which is very famous. There are souvenirs also. It has created a very good effect. There would be some place in your city which is famous for sports goods. For example, Banarasi saree became famous all over the country. Whenever there is a marriage in any part of the country, everybody feels like buying a Baranasi saree. Someone must have done its branding. Similarly, there must be a particular product in your city which is famous in the country. It could be of any city, be it Patna, Hyderabad, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram or Chennai. Try to find out what is the specialty of your city. Let the whole city decide together that this is our biggest strength and we should promote it. Soon, it will become a great means of economic activity. In short, we have to take the development of cities to a new level and we have to make efforts in that direction. There is a problem of traffic jams in the cities due to increasing population mobility. No matter how many flyovers are built, the situation won’t improve. If you go to Surat, you will find one flyover after every 100 meters. Perhaps it has become a city of flyovers. Flyovers are no solution to the problem. We have put great emphasis on the public transport system and metro network. But there are many other things besides this. We should make efforts to bring about a change in our social life. Similarly, there is the issue of Divyangjan. We have to keep in mind their requirements under Accessible India Campaign while we carry out any development work in the city, be it construction of a new building, roads, cross section, toilets, boarding steps for the buses etc. We have to make it part of our plans. Only then will it happen and one thing is true that the driving force of our economy is our cities. We should make the cities a vibrant economy hub. We should focus on identifying the place where new industries can be set up. It should be ensured that the laborers do not have to go far off for their working place, they should get work there and there should be a facility of accommodation there itself. We have to keep this integrated and holistic approach in our model of development and only then will everyone come for economic activity. He should be convinced that there is an ecosystem at that place, where he can set up his industry or factory and generate employment. We should also ponder over how MSMEs can be empowered in our development model. I don’t know whether you will be able to do all that I mentioned, but I have a request to all the mayors to do one thing which will give you immense happiness and satisfaction and that is PM SVANidhi Scheme.
You know there are street vendors in every city and their importance in everyone's life can’t be discounted and they are also a major force in the micro economy. But they have been neglected and nobody takes care of them. Have we ever bothered about those who raise money by paying expensive interest to moneylenders, run their household somehow and half of their earnings go into interest? They sell their wares by shouting in the streets, they want to fight poverty and work hard. The PM SVANidhi Yojana is for them. And during the Corona period, everybody has realized that life is difficult without them. They were not there during the Corona period. Earlier, it was never felt, but everyone had to sweat hard when the vegetable seller, milkman, newspaper, cleaner or cook did not turn up.
Corona has made us realize the importance and value of these people on whom our life is completely dependent. It is our responsibility not to leave them alone. They are part of our own journey. Therefore, we have launched the PM SVANidhi Yojana which is very good. You make a list of these people in your city and teach them how to make transactions through mobile phones. They will get money from the bank. They should use their mobile phones to make payment to the wholesaler from whom they purchase vegetables. They then visit hundreds of houses to sell vegetables and they should make it a point to accept money digitally and not cash. If they are able to make a 100 percent digital record, then banks will also come to know about the history of their business and will not hesitate in lending money. They may start with 10,000 rupees but if that money is returned, they will increase it to 20,000 rupees and 50,000 rupees subsequently. In fact, I have also said in the past that the interest will come down to zero if they do 100 percent digital transactions.
I am of the view that if these street vendors are able to get money for their business without interest, they would do well for themselves, would look after the studies of their children, would start selling quality goods and would expand their business. Can you make the Pradhan Mantri SVANidhi Yojana a priority? Make a pledge from the land of Kashi and from the banks of Maa Ganga that you would get the bank accounts of 200-500-1000-2000 street vendors opened and they would be trained in digital transactions before 26th January next year. The traders from whom they buy goods should also be given digital training. In no time, the digital business will flourish and the street vendors would be able to expand their business with least or if possible zero interest.
You have come to Kashi and would observe it closely. You may be having many suggestions and if you send me your suggestions, it would help me a lot in carrying out my duties in Kashi. If you think that the initiative that you took in your city as a mayor can be useful in Kashi, please share it with me. I will remain grateful to you. I want to learn from you. That’s the reason why I have invited all the mayors here. Please share the ideas with the people of Kashi about what you have done in your city. Myself and my colleagues will certainly implement those ideas and I would become the first student. We all are into politics. You all know that this is such a position from where there are very good opportunities to move forward in political life. You must be aware that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became a mayor and later president of Ahmedabad municipality during the period of servitude. At that time, the city of Ahmedabad was very small. And his political journey began from there. And even today the country remembers him. There are many leaders, whose political life began from a municipal corporation. Your life is also at such a stage. I am sure that you will also commit yourself for the development of your area with complete dedication to further your bright political future. Modern cities will have to be built and at the same time heritage needs to be revived. Both heritage and development is needed. I hope you will move ahead to fulfill your dreams. Once again, I welcome you to Kashi. I am sure the people of Kashi must have taken good care of you. The people of Kashi are warm-hearted. You will never miss that love and affection and carry the same upon your return.
Many thanks and best wishes!