Around 11 months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the first mega project in his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi — Trade Facilitation Centre and Crafts Museum — work began at the construction site on Wednesday.
The project is aimed to benefit weavers and other handicraft workers of Varanasi and adjoining districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
When Modi had laid the foundation stone on November 7 last year, on his first visit to Varanasi as the PM, the Union Ministry of Textiles had set a deadline of January 2017 — state Assembly polls are likely to be held then — for the completion of the project.
Now, the ministry has directed the construction agency to complete the building within 18 months. Sources said the ministry intends to organise a handicraft exhibition in the new building next year.
A formal ‘bhumi pujan’ was performed on Wednesday at the site in Bada Lalpur area by the staff of National Building Construction Corporation Limited (NBCCL) — a central enterprise — which has been appointed to execute the project by implementing agency National Handloom Development Corporation Limited (NHDC). The 200-crore project will come up on an 8-acre area.
Earlier, NHDC had appointed Hindustan Steelworks Construction Limited (HSCL) to execute the project but it was replaced with NBCCL recently.
When contacted, NHDC DGM Shamsher Singh Dhakarwal said: “The construction agency was changed recently because of some administrative issues.” While admitting there was a delay in beginning the project, Dhakarwal claimed that new agency has been directed to complete work within 18 months and hand over the building in another two months. A septic tank belonging to CPWD, clearance from the state forest department over cutting of 36 trees on the project site and certain land use related issues also delayed the beginning of the project.
NBCC AGM (Engineering), UP Zone, Sohan Lal said all issues have been sorted out and land has been cleared for construction. The map of the proposed building has been approved, he added. A project monitoring group under Union Ministry of Textiles’ Development Commissioner (Handlooms) Alok Kumar has been constituted for daily monitoring of the project.
The project is proposed to include a trade facilitation centre, a crafts museum for trade and business promotion, convention centre, exhibition hall, meeting hall, trade facilitation advisory services, especially for export procedure, legal and regulatory requirements, skill development centre, live demonstration of handloom weaving and handicraft technology, display galleries, food court and a place to hold cultural programmes to attract tourists.