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Kyoto - Varanasi pact: The city on the bank of river Ganges reacts
Varanasi, the religious and cultural capital of India and the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in mess on the development front. But this mess could be soon a thing of past! But how?

To transform his constituency into a smart city Narendra Modi has signed a pact with Japan under which his constituency would be developed on the lines of ancient Japanese city Kyoto, which is a combination of modernization and heritage.

Varanasi is one of the oldest city in the world whereas Kyoto has been the imperial city for more than 1000 years and both the cities also have rivers flowing alongside them. The Kyoto - Varanasi agreement provides for cooperation in heritage conservation, city modernisation and cooperation in the fields of art, culture and academics.

What actually the citizens of Varanasi feel about Kyoto-Varanasi pact? Are they equally enthusiastic like PM Modi and hopeful that their city will be soon a smart city? We spoke to few eminent people from the city to get the answers.

Prof. Raghuvendra Pratap Singh, Deptt. of Political Science, Banaras Hindu University

Prof Raghuvendra Pratap SinghI think it will take time. But if there is a will there is a way. This old and holy city Varanasi is just famous for its contribution in culture in the nation and it's still struggling to own that upper position in our nation. Many things have been proposed to reform the existing situation of the city whether it is to improve the bad condition of 'Ghats' or raising the number of tourist visiting this city as people visit this place because of it mesmerizing beauty. And we really don't know by what time these things will be rejuvenated by the government but this pact by PM Modi proves that government is working on it hard.

People are in support of developing Varanasi as it is also constituency of PM Modi. Many things had already been done by the government like it has already proposed more trains for this cultural capital and is making plans for cleaning Ganga river. One should also plan how to get rid of traffic related problems and set things for residence of the city.

Prof. Nand Lal, Deptt. of Political Science, Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith

Firstly, one can't develop two places at a similar level. Secondly, what common man suppose to gain if Varanasi gets developed on lines of Kyoto. As Mahatma Gandhi says 'One should first confirm that the changes which you are planning to bring in society how beneficially it is for all class people.'

Thirdly, every liberal democratic order say that big issues always conceal the minute issues of the society 'Sabke mehal ban jate hain aur Jhopadi ka hisa dab ke reh jata hai'. PM Modi is planning to develop Varanasi on the lines of Kyoto, I don't think it's good as every place has its own value, requirements, terms and conditions. To day he went to Japan, so he is planning to develop Varanasi like Kyoto, tomorrow if he visits England he would try to develop it like London, next if he visits Geremany, will he try to develop Varanasi like Berlin? For me its not acceptable. Rest is upto him what he wants to do, I can't say more.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, Human rights activist

Lenin RaghuvanshiThere are many similarities between Kyoto and Banaras and we are not aware what the agreement is all about. But the agreement is like a twin cities. But it is not going to become the exact copy of Kyoto, as Varanasi has its own problems and a very different history.

The experience of Kyoto may teach us modernising our city with the restoration of the heritage. We might learn that spirit. But it is impossible to copy any city to develop banaras because it has links with our beliefs. And believers in Hinduism are never going to agree with such transformation of the Varanasi on the lines of any other city. The most important thing is to start a campaign in the city and change the mindset of the people.

Ajay Rai, Congress MLA from Varanasi

Ajay RaiIt's pretty impossible. The situations of Varanasi and Kyoto is very different. There are geographical differences. Secondly, the population rate in both cities is very different. First the situation of main river of this city i.e. Ganga needs to be reformed. We have failed to provide clean drinking water and electricity to the city.

Government proposed about Rs 4.5 crore to construct a sewer treatment plant in the city but failed to even acquire land for it. If one has failed to sort out even these problems and still making some pacts then it is impossible to imply the things which he (PM Modi) vowed presently. The 6000 year old city Kashi is well known all over the world. The city doesn't need too much of modernisation but the already old structures needed to renovated. Renovation of buildings, availability of drinking water, cleanliness etc. are enough to focus on, which can enhance the beauty of the city.

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