Akhilesh announces Metro Rail for Varanasi

UP cabinet clears Metro Rail DPRs for Kanpur, Meerut, Agra and Varanasi

वाराणसी Varanasi (BSB): The Centre versus State development race just got hotter. After PM Narendra Modi announced a slew of development measures for his parliamentary constituency Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has decided to join the development bandwagon.

On Tuesday, Akhilesh said the UP cabinet gave its green signal for conducting a feasibility report for implementing the Metro rail project in Varanasi. Originally, the Metro rail project was envisaged for Varanasi in 2009 under the city’s Comprehensive Mobility Plan, after former PM Manmohan Singh visited Varanasi in 2008. Later, it was also included in Varanasi’s Master Plan 2031. In Master Plan 2031, the Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) has proposed four routes of underground and light elevated metro rail with a total length of 57.5 km. According to the plan, the underground metro rail of 7.5km has been proposed between Cantt and Lanka via Sigra-Rathyatra. The elevated rail transit has been proposed on Cantt to Sarnath via Pandeypur (9.5km), Diesel Locomotive Work to Mughalsarai via Cantt and Varanasi City railway station (22.5km) and Kutchehry to Babatpur via UP College (18km) routes. With the cabinet’s approval for the feasibility study, the government will now engage RITES, a Central government agency, to conduct a feasibility study and, subsequently, a detailed project report for the project. The VDA had engaged a Gurgaon-based company to prepare a comprehensive mobility plan in 2009. Under this plan, the proposals for an underground rail transit between Lanka and Sarnath via Cantt Railway Station and light elevated rail transit between DLW and Mughalsarai and from Kuchehri to Babatpur were made. However, it could not materialize. Earlier, in March 2008 representative of all the major cities having the status of metropolitan cities, had been called at Lucknow to present proposals on metro rail in the presence of Delhi Metro authorities and top officials of the state government. During that meeting, the VDA had given presentation to create the infrastructure of underground metro rail on two routes in Varanasi, including one between Mohansarai by-pass and Sarnath via Hurdattpur, DLW, Dashaswamedh, Machhodari Park, City Railway Station, Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, Pandeypur, Pahadia and Ashapur and the other between Babatpur Airport and birthplace of Sant Ravidas via Shivpur, Kutchehri, Cantonment Railway Station, Sigra, Rathyatra, Bhelupur, Sankat Mochan and Lanka crossing. However, no attention was paid towards these proposals of VDA by any agency or government.

While Agra attracts a lot of foreign tourists because of the Taj Mahal, Varanasi is the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Meerut is an important business centre in western Uttar Pradesh and Kanpur is the commercial capital of Uttar Pradesh with a large number of business houses and industries.

Sources say the Samajwadi Party (SP) government was keen to ensure that work on the ambitious projects is kickstarted by 2015 to convince the electorate that development work is going on when the state goes for state assembly polls early 2017.

Work on the first phase of the Lucknow Metro Rail is already underway and the state government has assured that work on this route would be completed by December 2016.

In the Lok Sabha election earlier this year, the SP got a major drubbing when it won just five seats out of the 80 in the state. Since then the Akhilesh Yadav government has undertaken a slew of projects to develop infrastructure in the state and has shied away from populism.