On 1st May 2016, Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh where he launched Clean India Campaign -Eco Friendly Solar Powered Boats for plying on river Ganga. The BJP Leaders and British High Commissioner Sir Dominic Asquith were also present at this event. PM Modi distributed eleven boats to the owners at the Assi Ghat and advised the boatmen to spend their income for good cause. It is a great attempt of PM Modi to make clean and green Varanasi with these e-boats which run on solar energy.

Using these eco-friendly boats will not only generate revenue stream for the people but also there will be an increase in conversion of manual or diesel motor boats into e-boats. Moreover, it will also help for the economic growth of the city and make surrounding environment fresh and clean. Launching these, PM Modi has ensured pollution ride for the tourists on the Ganga. With this initiative, there will be employment opportunity for more than 10000 boatmen who have been in this profession for the past long years. These include boatmen belonging to backward communities: mallah, kewat, manjhis and nishadhs.

PM Modi said, “We are empowering the poor so that the poor can battle poverty.”  

What are E-Boats and what is the work mechanism?

The introduction of these “e-boats” is being seen as a remedial measure for the alarming pollution level. These boats have been designed specifically with traditional themes and these will give comfortable ride to the tourists. The boats have been modified to install solar panels. These have two batteries that can be charged by solar energy. Opting no fuel mechanism will not only reduce the air pollution, but also prolonged the durability of boats. Moreover, The Sudhanshu Mehta Foundation has also come forward to become a part of this mission by arranging and providing several charging points at the Assi Ghat. One time fully charged batteries can last up to eight hours.

The cost effective and solar energy based models will be the first ever launched e-vehicles for the riding purpose. While enjoying rides, there will no disturbance with loud noise or vibration of generator. The Shikara Look Boats have been refurbished and environment friendly raw material has been used for designing process. These boats will also reduce the operational costs for those who earn their livelihoods through such boats. There is mobile charging facility which will encourage the tourists to go for boating and this will result in great earning for the boatmen community members.

After taking the boat ride, PM Modi said, “Schemes that strengthen the people are important, not schemes that strengthen vote banks.”

Following this boat ride amidst traditional slogan of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ by the charged gathering at ghat steps. While addressing large gathering at Assi Ghat, Shri Narendra Modi said that our government has launched such schemes that will empower the poor to fight and defeat against poverty themselves. He stated that the nation, government and banks are always there to help poor in the best possible ways. He said that our government believes in “going to the root” of the problems to provide suitable solution to people of the nation. Addressing member of boatmen communities as “sisters and brothers”, he mentioned the benefits of e-boats for earning money for their livelihood. Further, he asked boatmen not to misuse their earning for unnecessary purpose like liquor consumption.

He talked about the benefits of using eco-friendly boats. PM Modi said, “Tourists will be keen to come and take a ride on Varanasi’s e-boats, will this not boost tourism here? With e-boats, the boatmen will be able to save Rs 500 a day without spending on diesel. They can use this money for their family. Whatever money you save, use it for the wellbeing of your children – their food, their education but don’t waste what you save.”

He asked the people to support the Clean India Campaign. He also mentioned that it is our prior responsibility to ensure the healthy living and surrounding environment for our family and nation.

PM Modi also distributed e-rickshaws to the owners. He also held a Chaupal with 16 rickshaw pullers in the Parliamentary Constituency Varanasi to mention the benefits of these vehicles. He also added that there will be proper training to drive these vehicles under the Skill India Scheme.

Chaupal with 16 rickshaw pullers

PM Modi holds Chaupal with rickshaw pullers

He also mentioned the achievement of ISRO scientists’ i.e. successful launch of seven satellites to provide GPS services which will also be helpful for the boatmen to guide the directions.  He praised the contribution of 21 Crore poor families who have opened their bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and raised the economy by total deposit of Rs. 35000 Crore. He asked the beneficiaries to check out the benefits of insurance schemes that are linked to their accounts. There is 60% contribution of Dalit, tribal and BC families and 22% of women in this scheme.  While considering the critical financial condition of the poor family, PM Modi said that poor people of the country do not want loans in thousands of rupees or crores. Their requirement is meager. The way these poor people are depositing the installment to the banks should be judged that who is really “rich by heart”.

He said the Centre had plans to allocate “tremendous resources” to develop Uttar Pradesh. The fruits of development have to reach the eastern part of the nation and then we will gain great strength to fight against poverty.

Contributor: Sunpreet Kaur