August 28, 2016 1:28:10 am
EVEN AS Ganga continued to flow above danger mark submerging all the 84 ghats in flood water, Varanasi Municipal Corporation (VMC) began preparations for cleaning all the ghats and removing silt and waste. The task is estimated to cost around Rs 50 lakh and will take more than a month, according to VMC officials.
The civic body officials claimed that water level has been receding in Ganga from Friday afternoon, but all the ghats are still sumbmerged in flood water. “If the receding continues and water level goes below some stairs, the process to remove silt will start in the next few days. Silt will be removed from the stairs and thrown back in the river,” said B KDwivedi, Additional Municipal Commissioner, Varanasi.
Dwivedi said the Union Ministry of Urban Development has assigned the task of cleaning of ghats to a private agency IL&FS under the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMGC) a few weeks ago. “Cleaning of the ghats has to be done under the supervision of VMC and in case there is delay to begin work by IL&FS, the VMC will take the task in its own hand and restore the ghats to their normal condition so that tourists could start visiting these again,” the official said.
While there are 84 ghats on the banks of the river Ganga, local administration has planned to clean at least seven of them — Assi, Dashashwamedh, Manikarnika, Harishchandra, Scindia, Rajghat and Tulsi Ghat — on priority.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the task of cleaning all ghats in his constituency by carrying out the cleaning of Assi ghat in November, 2014, making it a priority for various central government ministeries, NGOs and even the state government to take care of the ghats. Later, VMC with other social organisations had taken around three months to finish what the PM had started.
More than 1000 villages located near Ganga and Yamuna have been submerged for the last 10 days. Due to the flooded conditions, “Subah-e-Baranas”, a cultural and spiritual event that is held every morning with the Ganga aarti, is being organized on the roadside around 100 metres from the ghat.
Similarly, the Ganga aarti at Dashashwamedh ghat which draws a large crowd every evening, is being performed on the terrace of a building nearby.
The flood-like situation has also become a menace for people who bring dead bodies for cremation at the Manikarnika and Harishchandra ghats and later take bath at Scindia ghat after performing the last rites of the deceased.
Rajghat and Tulsi Ghat, which also draw thousands of tourists daily, is submered in flood water.
There has been no power supply at the ghats for the past 15 days. The supply will be restored once the flood water recedes from the ghats.
Varanasi mayor Ram Gopal Mohle said cleaning teams have been formed at all municipal wards covering the ghats. “As the water level will start going below the stairs, cleaning of ghats will be started,” Mohle said.
Officials expressed concern about the silt deposit on these ghats. If the silt is not removed in time, the muddy soil will accumulate there and it will become even harder for municipal staff to remove and dispose the silt, they said.
Following the flood in Ganga, municipal sewage of the city has started flowing back into the city through drains. To prevent outbreak of any epidemic disease, VMC on Sunday will launch an awareness drive in all 27 municipal wards near Ganga for spraying anti-larval medicines, insecticides such as Malathion and bleaching powder in areas with stagnant sewage water. Around 400 municipal staff have been engaged in the drive.
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