Prime Minister Narendra Modi took up the task of discussing plans for the rejuvenation of “heritage cities” before leaving for Japan to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The implementation of the project will be carried out by the urban development ministry and will be enforced in phases over the next few years to turn them into tourist hotspots. According to sources the first phase of development and restoration of heritage cities will start with Varanasi, Mathura, Gaya, Ajmer, Amritsar, Kanchipuram and Velankanni. While the second phase will see the development of cities, Puri, Tirupati, Allahabad, Ujjain, Hampi, Rishikesh and Lucknow. Constraints of migrant population and the restoration of the existing infrastructure are some of the issues which would be dealt with while finalising the plan. The PM also reviewed the preparation of the Mission Varanasi plan. Sources said that PMO has suggested some new ideas that have to be incorporated in the draft prepared by the UD ministry. Sources said the redevelopment and rejuvenation plan would take into consideration social, physical and economic infrastructures. Modi had promised to make Varanasi the spiritual capital of India. The PM’s constituency is also part of the Rs 100 crore project to develop the riverfront and the integrated Ganga conservation mission. Sources said that the urban development ministry has proposed a hop-on-hop-off boat service in Ganga for pilgrims and tourists in Varanasi besides suggesting the need to have a comprehensive transport plan for the holy city, which may include having a mass transit system like the metro rail. In the overall plan for Varanasi the focus would be on the restoring the river, decongesting its sewers and improvement in the lot of the weaver community.
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