Being Threatened to Sell Homes For Kashi Corridor: Varanasi Locals

Residents of the Kashi Vishwanath region claim many houses have been bought secretly for the corridor.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha Constituency, Varanasi, is known for its towering temples, holy ghats and a maze of serpentine lanes. But plans to beautify this ancient city has sparked fear and loud protests among its residents.

Preparations are underway for PM Modi’s dream projects, like the Kashi-Vishwanath corridor and the Ganga pathway. However, in order to build these, the iconic narrow lanes of the temple town will have to be broadened to 40 metres under this project.

Kashi residents say they do not want to sell their homes.
Kashi residents say they do not want to sell their homes.
(Photo: Vikrant Dubey/The Quint)

But anyone who’s been to Varanasi knows that such a project cannot be possible without razing the many old mansions, structures and residences – several of which house ornate temples – that dot these lanes.

‘Being Threatened to Sell’

Residents of the Kashi Vishwanath region allege that several houses have been bought secretly for the corridor. Those who refuse to part with the structures they own are being threatened, locals allege.

Buildings are being razed here amid talks of an upcoming corridor. But there’s no clarity on the details of the corridor project. Although they have no clear plans, they’ve started occupying buildings. People are living here under the constant fear of officials, who come in groups and ask residents to sell-off their mansions, or lose them altogether in the acquisition process. 
Rajnath Tewari, President, Dharohar Bachao Sangharsh Samiti
Residents allege they are being threatened to sell their buildings in exchange for government compensation. 
Residents allege they are being threatened to sell their buildings in exchange for government compensation. 
(Photo: Vikrant Dubey/The Quint)

‘No Threats,’ Say Kashi Vishwanath Temple Officials

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, however, has dismissed allegations of threats and coercion. Vishal Singh, CEO of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust, says the trust has been trying to convince both legal and illegal occupants on the merits of giving up their properties.

Residents are being asked to move out with their consent and fair compensation, he says, adding that all of this is a part of the plan to beautify the iconic temple.

Varanasi: Where Homes are Temples and Temples are Homes

But in a city like Kashi, temples are homes and homes are temples. Each house lining the way from Kashi Vishwanath temple to the ghat has a temple inside it. Many homeowners say they are averse to the idea of selling their ‘temple-homes’ in exchange for government compensation.

We won’t give up till our last breath. A true Hindu would never give up his house. They want to pay for razing our houses and then talk about development at the cost of destroying our culture.There won’t be no difference left between idols in temples and those for sale in markets.
Gauri Shankar Shukla, Resident

Why is it that a government that is known to aggressively promote its schemes remains silent on the Kashi corridor project?

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