Ease of travel is catching the PM’s attention as he inaugurated the new six lane expressway connecting Varanasi with Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh. He underscored the importance of connectivity to a growing economy and society. This is where we believe the future of Indian tourism will unfold, as people travel for all reasons including tourism!

PM Modi made a whirlwind tour to the Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh, dedicating a slew of infrastructural projects to the state’s comparatively under-developed region. These national highway and air connectivity projects, including new terminals slated to handle international traffic, are expected to have a long-term impact on improving travel and consequently tourism. He spoke at length about the expected effects of the projects on the state, its economy and populace in general. 

Augmenting road infra and what it means for the state

PM Modi reminisced his first public meeting held in 2013 at the same place, noting that then “the highway passing through it was four lanes.” He said that the same highway had become six lanes, “with the blessings of Baba Vishwanath.”

He outlined the challenges faced by people visiting Rajatlab from Handia owing to frequent traffic jams and snarling traffic. It would upset travellers coming from Delhi and other cities, he said. “That journey of more than 70 kilometres will now be comfortable, at high speed. With the widening of this highway, the movement between Kashi and Prayag has become easier,” PM said. 

Boost to religious and spiritual tourism

He also linked the infrastructural development to how it was going to facilitate seamless spiritual and religious travel and tourism. He made a special mention of the Kavadias, given the region’s special affinity for Lord Shiva, arguing that their struggles in the movement were also a thing of the past. “It will also be benefited during Kumbh,” PM said. 

PM Modi underscored the importance of seamless road connectivity, noting that it was a pre-requisite for any type of travel, whether spiritual or regular. He believed that such facilities also encouraged indigenous and foreign tourists, “all types of tourists and devotees.” “Along with the beautification of Kashi in the past years, the benefit of the work done on the connectivity here is now visible far away,” PM Modi said.

He argued that the entire region had witnessed a spate of new activities related to all kinds of infrastructural development, “be it building new highways, bridge-flyovers, widening paths to reduce traffic jams, etc.” The work currently being done in Benaras and the surrounding areas had never been done since independence, he stressed.

Giving specifics, he shared that projects worth thousands of crores of rupees had been completed rapidly in Benares, in the last six years. Several other projects were in progress, he added. 

He called the road connecting the city to the airport the hallmark of development work in Benares. The connectivity of the railway station had also improved, he iterated, speaking to a crowd that lapped his every word. “The work of Ring Road Phase-2 is also going on at a distance from here. With its completion, heavy vehicles coming from Sultanpur, Azamgarh and Ghazipur will be able to directly exit this new six-lane highway without entering the city,” he detailed. 

The PM assured that efforts were being made to complete the construction work on the other highways soon. He also believed that the construction of these highways was going to facilitate easier travel to Varanasi, Lucknow, Azamgarh and Gorakhpur. 

Why infrastructure matters

PM Modi argued that good roads, railroads, excellent and cheap air facilities provided convenience to all sections of the society, especially the poor, the small entrepreneurs, the middle class. He also linked infrastructural construction to employment. “When these projects are completed, time is saved, expenses are reduced, and problems are reduced. Even in this time of Corona, these projects of infrastructure have become a very medium of employment for the workers,” PM Modi said. 

He lauded the efforts made by UP CM’s to lend a sense of urgency, bringing an “unprecedented boom in infrastructure construction” in the state. “Today the identity of Uttar Pradesh is being strengthened as Express State. Work is going on simultaneously on five mega projects worth thousands of crores of connectivity. Today, be it Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, or western Uttar Pradesh, every corner is being connected by expressway,” he enumerated the work being undertaken to improve road connectivity. He also highlighted that one of the two major and modern defence corridors of the country was being built in Uttar Pradesh. 

The changing landscape of air connectivity

The state’s air connectivity had seen tremendous improvement in the past few years, PM believed, saying that “3-4 years ago, only two major airports in UP were functioning effectively. Today, about a dozen airports are getting ready for service in UP.” He also mentioned that the expansion of Varanasi airport was already underway and the pace of construction of the airport terminal at Prayagraj had set a new record. The airport at Kushinagar was also being developed as an international airport, he added. “Work is also going on at the International Greenfield Airport in Jewar, Noida,” PM noted.