With beautification and cleaning work going on round-the-clock, Varanasi is being transformed to welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe along with host Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 12.
From electric poles, cables, hoardings (both political and commercial) to road-dividers, public urinals and garbage bins on the 25-km-long stretch between Babatpur airport and Dashashwamedh Ghat — all have either been painted, renovated or changed.
The two prime ministers will watch Ganga aarti from a floating stage erected by the Army personnel exclusively for the occasion. The 100-feet-long and 20-feet-wide stage was placed opposite to the Dashashwamedh Ghat on Tuesday with 200 metres of surrounding area declared no movement zone for boats and steamers.
Varanasi district magistrate Rajmani Yadav told The Indian Express, “Civil police, PAC, Navy, divers and other Central forces will be deployed for security around the venue. SPG team and officials of Ministry of External Affairs have already reached Varanasi and are overseeing the arrangements.”
SPG officials inspected the airport and ghats on Tuesday and held meetings with the local administration.
The DM said around 12,000 LED lights have been installed across Varanasi to illuminate the tourism city, with expenses shared by the Centre and the state governments. The Prime Minister’s Office was yet to finalise the names of dignitaries and locals who will dine with Modi and Abe on December 12 evening, the official added.
“Nearly 15 gates and hoardings with welcome and farewell messages from Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for the two PMs were being placed on the route,” an official said.
Varanasi Municipal Corporation is has already been conducting a “special” Swachh drive for the occasion.
Both the PMs had signed a pact to develop Varanasi as a “Smart City” when Modi had visited Japan in August last year. Varanasi Mayor Ram Gopal Mohle said the progress of work according to that pact could be discussed during the visit.
Modi will also gift exquisite Banarasi products to his Japanese counterpart. Rajnikant, director of NGO Human Welfare Association, has collected the products that have been entrusted into the hands of senior BJP leader Ashok Dhawan. The gifts include statues of peacock and lord Ganesha made, four weaved stoles, dorje brocade and woodcraft statues.
BJP media in-charge for Kashi region, Sanjay Bharadwaj said it was the first time when preparations at such grand scale were being done in Varanasi. “As Japanese PM is also coming this time, special arrangements are being made to welcome him,” Bharadwaj said.