Varanasi: Work at Assi Ghat, on the banks of river Ganga, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick-started the Clean Ganga mission last week, was briefly halted Tuesday owing to objections raised by the state forest department, officials said.
As labourers and others started removing the silt from the embankments, forest officials came to the site and prevented them from doing the work.
The forest department informed the district administration that work on the site was untenable as the site was also a turtle sanctuary.
The use of JCB machines at the site and other silt removal work could "terribly hurt" the conservation of the turtles, foresters said and stopped work.
As the news spread, local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders reached the site and protested. They alleged that the forest department was working at the behest of Akhilesh Yadav government to put road blocks in Modi's initiative.
Soon after the district administrations asked the foresters to lift the ban and work began again. Prime Minister Modi soon after cleaning the silt himself for over ten minutes during his two-day visit to his parliamentary constituency Varanasi had also named UP Chief Minister Akhileh Yadav as one of the nine persons who would lead the clean India - Swachh Bharat, initiative in UP.
While others accepted the nomination, Akhilesh Yadav is yet to respond.