Ganga promise: Walk the ghats, but don’t take a dip

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VARANASI: Clean Ganga may not be the top political issue in Varanasi this election, but it surely is a promise strong enough to find resonance in conversations of a meditative city that suddenly has to cope with construction activity round every second bend.

The dusts of change that fill the air settle down in the openings to the 84-odd famed ghats of the city, which exemplify this change best. You can hope to walk seamlessly from one ghat to another without shrouding yourself in dust or other waste. Modern stainless steel dustbins dot these paths and garbage seems to be going right where it should.

There are still some patches with standing urine or cattle dung, but mostly the ghats have been transformed into walkable public spaces with clean seating overlooking the holy river.

Not many would have believed this possible till May 2014, when Varanasi elected Narendra Modi as its Lok Sabha representative. In keeping with the prime minister’s election promise, ghat cleanliness is clearly in mission mode, with the Varanasi municipal corporation and the Centre’s National Mission on Clean Ganga (NMCG) working in tandem.

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