Two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a pact with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to turn Varanasi into a ‘smart city’ with help from Kyoto, Kenichi Ogasawara, Deputy Mayor of Kyoto, is scheduled to visit the temple city, which is also Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, on October 30.
This will be the first visit of any official from Kyoto to India after PM’s visit to Japan, a ministry official said, adding that so far, there have been no reports of Ogasawara’s plans to visit any other city.
Varanasi Mayor Ram Gopal Mohle told The Indian Express that the Kyoto Deputy Mayor will land in Delhi on Wednesday where he will hold meeting with the Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) officials regarding development of infrastructure like transport, waste management, etc for all cities.
Mohle said a meeting has been convened at the city municipal corporation office on Thursday where Ogasawara will meet municipal and district administration officials. The issues of solid waste management, cleanliness of city, laying of sewerage system, improvement of ghats and other modifications for infrastructure development of the city while maintaining its heritage will be discussed with Ogasawara and his suggestions would be sought for improvement in these works, he added.
Varanasi District Magistrate Pranjal Yadav said a city tour has been planned for Ogasawara as well. “Administration will take him to the tour of entire city and show him its existing condition. He could give valuable suggestions for development of the city,” Yadav said.
Mohle said Kyoto and Varanasi share many similarities historically. Kyoto is called the city of shrines, while Varanasi boasts of numerous temples and ghats. Both cities have rivers flowing alongside them.
During Modi’s Japan visit, Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa had given a presentation on how Kyoto made the transition from an old historic city to a modern and clean city of the 21st century while keeping the old parts alive. The MoUD has planned to develop Varanasi as a ‘smart city’ while restoring its old heritage on the lines of Kyoto.
Under the smart heritage cities’ programme, Kyoto will provide cooperation in the fields of conservation and modernisation of cities as well as art, culture and academics.
The MoUD had recently sent an action agenda exclusively for rejuvenation of Varanasi and recommended for the riverfront development of Varuna and Assi rivers.