NEW DELHI: Union minister for road transport and highways Nitish Gadkari, known for his innovative ideas and passion-driven infrastructure projects, has laid out the road map for connecting holy sites with proper infrastructure.
From Ayodhya to the Buddha pilgrimage circuit, from Amritsar to Kailash Mansarovar, Gadkari pledged to ensure a comfortable road journey to every pilgrimage site and increase pilgrim footfall by four times.
Speaking at the Aadhar Infra Confluence in Delhi on Wednesday, the minister shared a memory of his mother and how she suffered from back pain after completing a pilgrimage to Gangapur in Maharashtra.
“Six months before her passing, my mother visited the Gangapur pilgrimage site. After coming back, she was so upset; her back was hurting. She asked me, ‘Whenever you have the opportunity, first make sure you improve our pilgrimage site’s roads.'”
Gadkari told how he took on the challenge to improve nationwide connectivity to holy sites. “I visited many holy sites in the world, mosques, temples, and churches in Rome, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries. It pained me to see that our holy sites have such poor connectivity. Hence, I took it on priority to first improve the ‘Chaar Dham’ in Uttarakhand – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.”
One of the most inspiring projects he mentioned was the Kailash Mansarovar project. Kailash Mansarovar, a holy site for Hindus located in the Himalayas, falls into China. The minister claimed with confidence, “The Kailash Mansarovar road is 85% complete; by next year, you will be able to travel to Kailash Mansarovar from India.”
While listing several other temple-infrastructure projects, Gadkari pointed out the expenditure earmarked for some of the tasks. “We are making the Buddha circuit worth Rs 22,000 crore, where Gautam Buddha was born. Around Ayodhya, we are making roads worth Rs 35,000 crore. We have made a road even inside Nepal to reach Sita’s birthplace as well as the place connecting to ‘Chitrakoot,’ where Lord Rama went for a 14-year exile,” the cabinet minister explained.
Reaffirming the secular nature of their government, as established by their motto of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vishwas,’ the road transport minister said that the government is ensuring that all pilgrimage sites – Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, or Muslim – are being looked after with no discrimination.
Nitin Gadkari envisions that he aims to increase religious tourism in the country on a large scale. He said, “All religious places, be it Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, or Muslim pilgrimages, we want to improve road infrastructure everywhere. My goal is to increase pilgrim footfall by four times.”