Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Monday, June 24, 2024

Experts discuss ways to transform Varanasi to a heritage smart city on the lines of Kyoto










New Delhi: Experts from India and Japan came together on Wednesday on a single forum to discuss ways to transform Varanasi to a heritage smart city, on the lines of Kyoto —a classic example of a smart city in Japan which has managed to retain its heritage. 



In 2014, India and Japan had signed a pact to transform Varanasi into a Kyoto-style smart city while conserving its heritage at the same time. The agreement also provides for cooperation between the two countries in the field of art, academics and culture. 



Speaking at the Global Partnership Summit —An Initiative of India and Japan, Vibhav Kant Upadhyay, chairman of ICF and founder and director general of India Japan Global Partnership, said the heritage cities of Varanasi and Kyoto have several things in common and hence the Kyoto model will act as an inspiration in the makeover of Varanasi. 



Under the India Center Foundation umbrella, the four-day summit which began on Monday will see panel discussions, where experts from different backgrounds will deliberate over a range of topics. 



Both Varanasi and Kyoto are places of pilgrimage. Like Kyoto, which is called the city of 10,000 shrines, Varanasi is home to thousands of temples. Both the cities are situated by rivers and are densely populated with a 15 million population in Kyoto and a 12 million population in Varanasi. 



Upadhyay proposed setting up a Varanasi-Kyoto foundation called Vakyo, which will closely monitor and oversee the transformation of India's temple town to Kyoto. 



"Kyoto is a successful example of restoring an old heritage city into a smart heritage city and we can learn from the process of Kyoto transformation and adopt it in transforming Varanasi. Vakyo can help in this objective," Upadhyay said. 



Upadhyay suggested as part of the transformation process, Varanasi should be de-cluttered by laying underground cables; its roads should be improved, proper waste and water management and a plantation drive to restore its green cover, while establishing a Vedic city or a New Varanasi separate from the old city. 



Daisaku Kadokawa, Mayor of Kyoto-city, spoke about Kyoto's transformation to a smart city over a decade, at the event. 



Acknowledging the Kyoto-Varanasi partnership, Kadokawa said Kyoto's has seen a 49 per cent reduction in the volume of waste since 2000 and the city has been developed as a pedestrian-friendly city by increasing volume of walking lanes and reducing car lanes. 



He said disaster drills are conducted among students and occurrence of fire incidents in the city had significantly gone down in Kyoto and that students and residents have played a major role in cleaning up the city and rivers and reducing garbage generation.