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Anger simmers in Varanasi over plans to modernise ancient city

Bharatiya Janata Party
the Gyanvapi Mosque
the Supreme Court
Al Jazeera News
Al Jazeera Media Network

Trilochan Shastri
Jagriti Rai
Narendra Modi
Suresh P Singh
Haji Ahmed Ishtiyaque
Vishal Singh


Ganges River
Ganga River

the Tulsi Manas Temple
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Golden Temple
the Golden Temple
the Gyanvapi Mosque

Uttar Pradesh
the Uttar Pradesh High Court
Saudi Arabia

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Positivity     35.00%   
   Negativity   65.00%
The New York Times
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To the dismay of residents and activists, India's centre of Hindu culture on the Ganges's shores is rapidly changing.Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India - The narrow alleyways winding down along pale buildings and maharaja's "havelis" or king's palaces are the pride of the old city's residents. Decrepit yet stately buildings scratched by time and elements, crammed side by side on stratification of different ages, are the defining marks of Varanasi, in northern India.Today, they are at the centre of a controversy gradually attracting attention in the national media.Considered the centre of Hindu spirituality and the most auspicious place to die, the city of Lord Shiva and its old centre on the western shores of the sacred Ganges River are changing as government-sponsored contractors demolish buildings, often knocking down small, old temples."The project has started without a plan, they [the government] have power and money, hence have begun the demolition without a roadmap," said Trilochan Shastri, chief priest at the Tulsi Manas Temple.Shastri has opposed the regeneration project since its inception."Temples … are all over Kashi," he said, using another name for Varanasi, "underground, near the drains, inside the houses, we can hardly count them."The government has acquired 300 properties to make way for a 400-metre long and 15-metre wide path leading from the city's main pilgrimage site Kashi Vishwanath Temple, known as Golden Temple, to the holy Ganga River.Jagriti Rai, activistThere are plans to raze down all the buildings on the path: a jigsaw puzzle of multi storey houses belonging to different ages across an area of 25,000 square-metres. The temple and its sacred statue, are nestled in the heart of Varanasi's old town in a muddle of tortuous lanes.Along with Varanasi's imposing ghats, the temple is a city trademark.  On religious festivities, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims queue up for hours to visit the place of worship along the bamboo barricades set up to channel the crowd. Officials say the area needs to be cleared to provide visitors with more amenities. The project comprises a corridor leading to the Ganges- part of a modernisation and beautification drive led by the Varanasi administration, which also happens to be Modi's constituency in the 2014 elections and his flagship project - and has stirred anger and opposition from different sides."Since Narendra Modi came to power, he decided to change things in Varanasi: a new development model inspired by Gujarat (where Modi was chief minister) has been forced upon us," said Jagriti Rai, an activist monitoring the demolitions.

As said here by Maria Tavernini