Since 2016, when the first ever Sawachh Sarvekshan declared Indore the cleanest city in India, its citizens have been honouring religiously their commitment to keep their surroundings utmost clean.
PM Gives a Facelift To Religious Grandeur of Ujjain
In October this year, the city received the recognition for the sixth time in a row. Within a week of this achievement, on October 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to public Mahakal Lok in neighbouring Ujjain. The Project gave a facelift to the religious grandeur of the holy city in and around famous Mahakal Temple–one of twelveJyotirlingas across the country.
In fact, the State witnessed yet another event, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi released into Kuno Palpur Park (KNP) cheetahs brought from Namibia on his birthday on September 17 in presence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
All these developments and some more projects in the pipeline are bound to give a tremendous boost to tourism in the State and its economy, say government officials.
What has made the cheetah translocation project unique in the world is the fact that it happens to be the first inter-continental cheetah translocation project. Its success may pave the way for further such translocations at the international level to increase the number of the wild animal which is listed as vulnerable and endangered in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. Now, Madhya Pradesh happens to be the only State in the country which has tigers, cheetahs and leopards in its territory. In fact, MP, also known as the Tiger State, has more tigers than any State in the country.
Mahakal of Ujjain
Coming to Mahakal Lok, it’s developed on Mahakal temple campus and around. The first phase of Mahakal Lok, which involved a cost of about Rs 350 crore includes a 25-feet high and 500 meters long mural wall, 108 Shiva pillars having different postures, a 200 meters walkway, a Mahakal theme park, renovation of ghats and several temples in the vicinity.
On The Lines of Kashi Vishwanath Corridor
As per officials, Mahakal Lok has been built to promote religious tourism on the lines of Kashi Vishwanath corridor. For this purpose, an expert committee was constituted. The said committee visited Varanasi, Akshardham and Haridwar before the ambitious project was given a definite shape to be implemented.
Notably, the PM himself had earlier dedicated to the public the first phase of Kashi Vishwanath corridor which has been constructed at a cost of over Rs 330 crore in Varanasi.
It’s in 2014-15 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government launched Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme in 2014-15 under the Ministry of Tourism with an aim to identify and develop pilgrimage sites across India ‘for enriching the religious tourism experience’.
“It aims to integrate pilgrimage destinations in a prioritised, planned and sustainable manner to provide a complete religious tourism experience. The growth of domestic tourism hugely depends on pilgrimage tourism”, states the Ministry of Tourism’s note on the scheme on its official website. The scheme doesn’t only aim at attracting more and more devotees to the pilgrimage destinations but also to promote local arts, culture, handicrafts, cuisine etc to generate livelihood over there. The scheme has already started yielding unprecedented results for the local businesses which are witnessing a kind of boom.
“Madhya Pradesh has got rid of its identity of a sick State under the leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The cities of Madhya Pradesh are setting new examples in cleanliness and development” — Narendra Modi, Prime Minister
Giving an insight into the development, Sandeep Vatsa, a resident of Ujjain, said, “Influx of devotees has exponentially shot up after Mahakal corridor was dedicated to the public by the PM. Earlier,on an average there were about 10,000 to 12,000 visitors every day. The number has shot up at least 10 to 12 fold. Roughly, it’s about 1 lakh visitors every day, even more on weekends and Mondays. Also, many visitors now wish to stay for a couple of days unlike earlier when we saw just a daylong stay, as they want to spend time at Mahakal Lok.”
How it has helped the local business can be gauged from the fact that several hotels, built at the time of Simhastha fair in 2016, were on the brink of closure. Now, one can find almost all the hotels booked to capacity. Even new hotels are being planned. Local transport and other businesses like restaurants, roadside eateries, sale of flowers, garland, prasad, various articles associated with Lord Mahakal, garments etc have benefitted from it, said Sandeep.
“The influx of devotees has changed the character of the city life. Earlier, the bustle in the city was there up to 10 to 10.30 pm but now we can see people moving around till late night. With this, eateries too see a brisk business up to late night. The number of visitors has suddenly shot up at other temples too in the city”, said Sandeep.
Approximately 50 kilometres away from Ujjain, Indore is drawing the attention of people from across the country for a different reason. It has left behind all other mega cities in the country in terms of cleanliness. The city responded with unmatched zeal to the PM’s Swachhta campaign. Dr Santosh Patidar from Indore says, “There is tremendous change in the lifestyle of people who have adopted the mantra of Swachhta in their day to day life.” In a way, said Dr Patidar, Indore has given a message to the entire country as to how a Government scheme can be successfully implemented to bring about a massive change in the society which couldn’t be imagined earlier.
Not far away from Indore, Omkareshwar which has another temple built over the 2nd Jyotirlinga in the State will see a huge statue of Adi Shankracharya. In February this year, the State Cabinet approved construction of a 108-feet tall statue of Adi Shankaracharya, a museum dedicated to him and his philosophy and also an international Advaita Vedanta Sansthan which will be built at a cumulative cost of Rs 2141 crore. Once the statue of the proponent of Advaita Vedanta and other structures come up at Omkareshwar, the stretch of more than 130 kilometres between Omkareshwar and Ujjain via Indore is bound to see huge influx of devotees and other visitors from across the country, particularly from the neighbouring States of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Of course, it will give a huge boost to the local and State’s economy, said Dr Patidar.
Development of Path Undertaken By Sri Ram
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan Government has also on its priority list development of Ram Van Gaman Path, the route that Bhagwan Ram took during his exile (Vanvas). The State Government has also urged the Central Government to extend financial assistance to it. A trust will look after the entire work with assistance from several departments of the Government including PWD.
Meanwhile, Minister for Culture, Tourism, Religious Trusts and Endowment, Usha Thakur, announced that development of the area and the route would involve a few thousand crores of rupees and the Centre would be expected to bear 60 per cent of the cost. It is not only religious destination-related schemes but also other schemes too introduced by the Centre which Madhya Pradesh government, as it claims, is trying to implement effectively. The state’s progress in the agriculture sector was recognised by Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari.
Attending a programme in Mahakoshal region in the first week of November Gadkari said, “Remarkable work has been done in the agriculture sector in Madhya Pradesh. Under the leadership of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan Madhya Pradesh has received Krishi Karman award (from Central government) consecutively. Now, Madhya Pradesh has also started exporting agricultural produce. The farmers have now become Urja data along with being Annadata.”
As per government data, irrigated area in the state has grown from 7.5 lakh hectare as in 2003 to 45 lakh hectare now. The government plans to increase it further to 65 lakh hectares in the next 3 years. Last month, the State Government approved tenders for construction work for 5 irrigation projects based on Narmada water, which will cost as much as Rs 11,540 crore. The project to link Ken-Betwa rivers is already afoot.
The Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved funding and implementation of the project in December, 2021, which will cost Rs 44605 crore and will be completed in 8 years. The project will provide irrigation up to 10.62 lakh hectares ‘in the perennially drought prone area and water-starved regions in Chhatarpur, Panna and Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh’, as per government data.
Addressing a programme in MP virtually in August this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Madhya Pradesh has got rid of its identity of a sick State under the leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The cities of Madhya Pradesh are setting new examples in cleanliness and development.”