Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday laid the foundation stone of the ambitious 'Kashi Vishwanath Mandir Vistarikaran-Saundarayakaran Yojana' (Kashi Vishwanath Temple Extension and Beautification Plan) here that would be rolled out in four phases.
He kick-started the Rs 600 crore project by putting some bricks with the name of the temple inscribed on it, in the presence of Governor Ram Naik, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and state Bharatiya Janata Party chief Mahendra Nath Pandey.
Addressing a gathering at the ceremony, he said the area would be soon decongested and uncluttered, providing relief to the devotees.
The Prime Minister landed in Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, earlier in the day in an Indian Air Force plane at the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport where he was received by Naik and Adityanath.
Officials told IANS that work will soon begin on the 40,000 square metre corridor.
Slamming previous governments in the state for delaying the project, Modi said that had the Samajwadi Party government cooperated, he would today be inaugurating the project rather than laying its foundation stone.
"Even Mahatma Gandhi raised the matter some 100 years back and had aired his thoughts on decongesting the area," he added.
The Prime Minister thanked those who shifted their houses to clear out the area so that the project could see the light of the day.
"For decades people were only concerned about themselves and when the demolition of the buildings surrounding the temple started, it was discovered that 40 temples had been taken over by the people," he noted.
Modi also requested the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to take up the project as a case study.