Following an outcry on social media, the authorities have reversed their proposal to charge entry fees to the Namo Ghat here.
The authorities on Tuesday began charging Rs 10 for access to the Khidkiya Ghat, commonly known as Namo Ghat because of three enormous statues of hands folded in “namaste”.
The decision was reversed on Wednesday after instructions from higher-ups, according to Varanasi Smart City project PRO Shakhambhari Nandan.
He said the entry fee was fixed so that unscrupulous elements do not enter the ghat and the amount was to be spent on its maintenance. Namo Ghat—it derived its name from the two huge sculptures of folded hands on the riverbank.
Earlier, Congress lawmaker and former MLA Ajay Rai chastised the administration for the admission charge, claiming that a tax will now be levied in the prime minister’s constituency for wandering on ghats and in parks.
He accused the government of “commercializing faith” after “ruining” the country’s economy. “The people of Kashi will respond to this,” he continued.
In response to the government’s plan to charge an access fee, Samajwadi Party spokesperson Manoj Rai stated earlier in the day, “Now, people would not be able to approach Maa Ganga for religious acts unless they pay.” This was done for the first time in Kashi’s history. My party will file a protest.”
Namo Ghat, which is around 500m long and cost the state exchequer Rs 34 crore to build, was inaugurated by Modi in 2019.