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Kashi-Vishwanath Corridor: Small temples to be preserved as clearing process goes on

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Kashi-Vishwanath Corridor: Small temples to be preserved as clearing process goes on

India Today TV did a ground check and found that rows of temples are now visible in the debris. Centuries old temples, earlier hidden among rows of houses now stand tall and open to public.

As buildings and small structures get demolished during the ongoing clearance for Kashi Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi, a number of temples are now newly visible. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that forty temples were rediscovered and they will be preserved for the public.

India Today TV did a ground check and found that rows of temples are now visible in the debris. Centuries-old temples, earlier hidden among rows of houses now stand tall and open to the public. A team of historians and architects is constituted to explore the history of these temples, appoint a priest and initiate rituals.

Boards placed in front of small temples inform devotees that "this temple is visible and now available for visit and darshan after removal of residential/commercial structures of the property."

Most residents seemed to have approved the decision of the government. "I was not aware these temples even existed but had been covered under houses. We appreciate the project as this will bring more tourists and pave way for modernisation which will be better for the state," said Rajiv Mehrotra, a resident.

However, some residents also walked up to claim they lived in this area and were disappointed how their houses were demolished. They evaded questions on monetary compensation but maintained their city of lanes and its character has changed forever, expressing disappointment over the corridor. Authorities said that the government has released 250 crore rupees for purchase and dismantling of properties. An additional 25 crores utilized for compensation.

Each family with a rented home has been given Rs 10 Lakh while each shopowner has been given Rs 5 Lakh. Property owners have been given financial compensation as per circle rates of the area and evaluation of the building. 23 constructions are pending due to lack of clarity with documents or because of owners asking for "astronomical prices"

Chief Executive Officer of the project assured that all 'legal right holders' have been duly paid and temples will be taken care of.

"Our first objective is to rehabilitate and relocate residents, clear the area for corridor mapping. This took 9-10 months and almost 90 per cent of the work has been finished. All legal-right holders have been paid. Many temples have also been discovered during this task. Teams have been set up to explore the history. We will now carry out soil-testing, geotechnical investigation and map for underground pipes," said Vishal Singh, CEO, Kashi Vishwanath Special Area Development Board.

Varanasi is the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During his Varanasi tour on Friday, PM Modi laid foundation stone for Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project and also attempted to calm down anxious nerves of voters ahead of elections.