Varanasi and Ujjain are working on infrastructure due to the increase in visitors after the new temple corridors. Ayodhya’s infra work going hand with the Ram Temple construction. In December 2021, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Varanasi and inaugurated Kashi Vishwanath Temple, he proclaimed that the temple can accommodate 50,000-75,000 devotees possessing to its expansion from 3,000 sq ft to 5 lakhs sq ft. But seeing heavy visitors in the temple has made the infrastructure weaken due to the pressure.
Sunil Kumar Verma, the chief executive officer of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust, stated that the temple corridor is currently witnessing a huge number of devotees, especially on Mondays due to the ongoing Shravan Month. Around 1.5-2 lakh visitors are seen on a daily basis in the Temple. He also mentioned that last year around 7 Crore people visited the holy city of Varanasi.
Although the spike of visitors to the holy place is harming the Infrastructure this spike has benefitted the locals out there. Because the hotel, restaurants, and private transport prices have increased due to the footfalls in the place and have boosted the local economy.
Apart from the infrastructure problem, the city is facing some other challenges as well like traffic congestion, issues with public transport, parking space issues, high demand for water, and an increase in solid waste.
The Varanasi City administration and Municipal Corporation have sanctioned projects like building a new flyover, constructing a ring road, and upgrading public transport. The construction of the ring road already started when the corridor was being made. For a better public transport system, 300 electric busses are to be purchased and work is underway on a ropeway that will connect the Varanasi Cantonment train station with the temple complex.
Ujjain faces footfalls in the Mahakaleshwar temple
The once-sleepy temple town of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh has been humming with activity ever since phase-1 of the Rs 850 crore Mahakal Lok corridor project, which spans 2-5 hectares(6 acres), was inaugurated last October.
Mayor Mukesh Tatwal spoke to ThePrint, that the locals have converted their ancestral home and land into Restaurants and B&Bs. Around 500-600 houses were converted in the area. Ujjain District Magistrate Kumar Purushottam has said that the corridor has boosted the economy for the locals.
However, the drastic surge in devotees at the temple has also strained the infrastructure, with 10 lakh people in the city. The administrator of Mahakal Temple Sandeep Soni confirmed that nearly 1.5-2lakh devotees visit the newly developed corridor every day and the number keeps increasing on special occasions or on Mondays. Tatwal added that the number of devotees wasn’t expected since it’s straining the infrastructure, also parking vehicles have become one of the major issues and the team is working on increasing the space.
To deal with the problem of Traffic congestion and increased solid waste generation, the city administrator and the Ujjain municipal corporation have undertaken various projects to overcome these problems, said Tatwal.
According to Purshottam, the scope of widening the roads around the temple complex and its plan to prevent decongestion and comprehensive mobility has been prepared. The plans will include the construction of more parking slots and a ropeway will be made for better mobility from the Railway station to the temple complex.
Due to the rise in the number of visitors, there is an increase in floral waste generation, the daily waste generation is around 2-4MT. So a 5MT plant has been started to make all the floral waste into incense sticks, Holi colors, etc. In another plant, paper products are made with the cloth pieces of the visitors left on the ghats, and both plants are successfully run by the women’s self-help groups.
Plans to deal with Footfalls in Ayodhya
In Ayodhya, infrastructural improvement work is being done concurrently with the construction of the Ram Temple, unlike in Varanasi and Ujjain. The temple is being built in three phases, Phase-1 involves the sanctum sanctorum and this will be expected to complete by the end of this year. According to CM Yogi Adityanath, the project worth Rs 32,000 Crore is already been implemented in the city.
Even Ayodhya temple receives nearly 5lakh people as visitors on a daily basis. Many projects development are underway like widening the roads, working on hospitality infrastructure, to upgrading the water supply. Vishal Singh, the city municipal commissioner, and the vice–chairman of the Ayodhya Department Authority( ADA) said that the team has a different approach to controlling the rise in footfall in the city. A vision plan has been developed for 2047 which will cover all the planning that will meet the requirements of the devotees, people of the city, tourists, and locals.
According to the officials, the main challenge is to maintain vehicular traffic in the city, but the problem is been taken care of by widening the arterial roads, and parking slots are being expanded. To make better use of solid waste generation and the municipal corporation is building a new solid waste treatment plant.
Mayor Girish Pati Tripathi said to ThePrint that work is underway in increasing the capacity of the hospital sector in the city. Lots of Hotels and Dharamshalas have been sanctioned for the benefit of devotees.