Varanasi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday praised both the Central government and the Uttar Pradesh government for their sincere efforts for carrying this ancient-most city of the world from spiritual to smart city of the 21st century.
He also called upon all saying that the process should be continued maintaining the cultural identity and heritage of Varanasi.
Mr Kovind was addressing a gathering of selected people at Pt Deen Dayal Upadhya Hastkala Sankul, popularly known as Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), at Bada Lalpur here.
At the function, the President laid the foundation stones for five major projects of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) including Varanasi-Hanumana (Madhya Pradesh borders on NH-7) Four-lane highway via Mirzapur and Ring Road Phase-2. These projects worth Rs 3,473 crore under which 170 km-long road would be constructed.
Mr Kovind said these projects after their completion would change the face of the region and accelerate the pace of its development apart from creating a lot of job opportunities. On the occasion, the President also distributed appointment letters to about 3000 youths trained under skill development.
Mr Kovind said though after becoming the President, he visited this holy city for the first time, but he has long relations with Varanasi as in the past he often visited the city and stayed for weeks here and always his visits gave him a lot of satisfaction.
"It is the oldest cities on the earth which has reputation of making it changes with the modernization, maintaining its traditions, imparting education in Vedic knowledge on one hand and modern technology on the others.
"It is the city where about 2600 years ago, Gautam Buddha had given his 'First Sermon' in Sarnath and it is the only city in the world which had produced five 'Bharat Ratna' recipients. It is also the city where great poets Sant Kabir Das and Sant Ravidas were born and Goswami Tulsidas had stayed here for years penning down 'Shree Ramcharitmanas'. It is also the karmabhoomi of Pt Madan Mohan Malviya and janmabhoomi of former Prime Minister late Lal Bahadur Shastri. The city has also produced many chief ministers and it was the first time when a local MP has become the prime minister (Narendra Modi)," he added. The President praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his dedicated efforts to highlight the city and its uniqueness identities across the world and in this direction, sometime ago Mr Modi came here along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and recently with French President Emmanuel Macron and just a few days ago German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited here. "After return from here French President while talking to him was very impressed with his visit to Varanasi and when he had gifted a book on Varanasi to him, Macron had shown his happiness saying that it would help him recalling his memorable visit to Varanasi," disclosed the President.
Mr Kovind added: "Whenever he visited the city and Kashi Vishwanath temple earlier, he often feared seeing the nets of electric wires crossing from one side to other side of the roads and narrow lanes but now I'm happy that with the efforts of government underground cabling work is going in full swing and in old city areas it is almost near completion."
He also highlighted the glorious handicraft traditions of the city and said before coming to auditorium to attend the function, he saw an exhibition which was very impressive and suggested all present there to see the same to understand the richness of heritage and culture of Varanasi.
During his address, the President repeatedly praised the hectic development work being done here including various projects under Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojna (HRIDAY) and Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD). He also expressed his happiness over the development of a corridor to link this part of country with Eastern India through road, water and rail transportation. Earlier, welcoming the President, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said under the skill development project about six lakh youths were enrolled and out of them 2.5 lakhs had already passed out their training.
He added that out of them, 1.4 lakhs had already received appointment letters. The function was also attended by Governor Ram Naik, union minister of state for Road Transport and Surface Transport Mansukh Lal Mandviya, union minister of state or Health and Family Welfare Anupriya Patel, UP ministers Chetan Chauhan, Anil Rajbhar, Neelkanth Tiwari and Suresh Passi, state BJP president Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey and MP from Machhalishahr (Jaunpur) Ram Charit Nishad apart from several local MLAs, MLCs and others. UNI