A move by civic authorities in Varanasi to charge Rs 10 per person as entry fee for a recently renovated ghat along the Ganga river has drawn mixed opinion on social media, with many questioning how access to a sacred river can be controlled and some others pointing to the need for regulating massive crowds that come into the area each day.
An official today said that the ticketing system had been put on hold for now.
"We had started the ticketing system for operations, maintenance and to regulate crowds. Our senior officials have asked us to put it on hold for now. The system was started for the proper maintenance of the ghat and to ensure anti-social elements can be kept out", a govt official said in a statement to the media.
A photograph of the ticket for the recently redeveloped Namo Ghat in the city went Viral on social media yesterday. The ticket had a 'Smart City Varanasi' logo on it and also said it was valid for a 4-hour visit.
The Namo Ghat is also known as Khidkiya Ghat - the Uttar Pradesh tourism website calls it an ancient ghat located at one end of the city.
Varanasi is famous for multiple ghats along the Ganga river visited by thousands of people each day
In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the renovation of the Khidkiya ghat and the first phase of the work was recently completed. The new name was given to the ghat after the construction of sculptures with folded hands greeting the sun, like 'Namaste'.
There are plans to construct an open-air theatre, a library and a cafeteria at the ghat.
Congress leader and Varanasi resident Gaurav Kapoor, the national convener of the party's research department, tweeted a photo of the entry ticket this morning, calling it a wrong move. " For the first time in history, a ticket is being issued to access a Varanasi Ghat. This is a wrong decision and should be taken back", Mr Kapoor tweeted tagging the Prime Minister and the Varanasi municipal corporation.
इतिहास में पहली बार, बनारस के एक घाट पर जाने के लिए टिकट, खिड़किया घाट (नमो घाट) पर अब 4 घंटे के लिए 10 रुपिया का टिकट। वाह @narendramodi जी वाह। यह गलत है @PMOIndia और @nagarnigamvns और यह वापिस होना चाहिए। @priyankagandhi@INCUttarPradesh@INCVaranasi@INCIndia@RahulGandhipic.twitter.com/zN5ZxZssv2— Gaurav Kapoor (@gauravkapoorvns) August 3, 2022
The move has found some supporters on social media too, a user tweeted that the money was necessary for maintenance and called the amount affordable.