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No temples to be demolished in Ayodhya for development work, flyover construction project cancelled, underpasses to be built instead

During a Housing and Development Board meeting, it was decided that all temples established prior to Section 28 in Ayodhya would be accommodated on-site

Following the BJP’s defeat in Ayodhya in the Lok Sabha elections, some major decisions are being taken by the district administration and the authorities in Lucknow. The DM released a white paper on the demolition drive on the 11th of June. The Uttar Pradesh Housing Development Council scrapped plans to build a flyover worth Rs 264.26 crore in Ayodhya. The proposed flyover would have connected Ayodhya and Gorakhpur. The decision was made during a board meeting led by Additional Chief Secretary (Housing) Nitin Ramesh Gokarna on Wednesday (12th June).

Now an underpass will be constructed in its place. Pertinently, temples in Ayodhya will not be demolished as part of new housing development schemes and such temples would be accommodated at the same place. It is pertinent to note here that the demolition of several temples along with shops and houses for development work had caused widespread discontent among the local people. The large-scale demolition action was also said to be a factor in the BJP’s defeat in Ayodhya. 

Underpass not flyover: Authorities change plan just days after approving a proposal for the construction of flyover

On May 31, 2023, the Uttar Pradesh Housing Development Council approved the construction of a six-kilometre flyover on the Gorakhpur-Ayodhya road. NHAI made the construction proposal available to Housing Development. The council had provided administrative and budgetary approval. NHAI requested Rs 264.26 crore from Housing Development for the construction, but the plan has subsequently been cancelled.

Dr. Neeraj Shukla, Commissioner and Secretary for Additional Housing, stated that if a flyover is constructed, the work of Housing Development will not be possible, and therefore an underpass will be constructed instead. 

The board has decided to build three new underpasses on the Ayodhya-Gorakhpur Highway. A 50-meter-wide underpass will be built to cross the 36-meter and 45-meter-wide road. Its height will be 5.50 metres. Two such underpasses will be constructed. A 20-meter-wide, 4-meter-high subway will be built to traverse an 18-meter-wide road.

No more temple demolition for development work

It has been reported that the Housing and Development Board (Awas Vikas Parishad) is acquiring 176.5941 hectares of land in Ayodhya’s Shahnawazpur Majha, Shahnawazpur Uphaar, Kudha Keshavpur Majha, and Kudha Keshavpur Uphaar villages. Many old temples are also included in the area designated for this plan. During the board meeting, it was decided that all temples established prior to Section 28 would be accommodated on-site. Accommodations will not interfere with approved road and service layouts. However, if a temple hinders road alignment or essential services, it will be relocated according to established procedures.

The Housing Development Board decided plan of action after consulting local people

Notably, the Housing and Development Board has excluded areas of the initiative that are classified as densely populated. The scheme identifies six such densely populated areas. Three compact areas have been identified as impeding the intended road and services. They will be evaluated based on the Public Works Department’s current circle rate and construction cost, which will be paid. The old and dilapidated boundary walls that impede development work will be demolished. These will be adjusted by charging a non-improvement fee. Moreover, the Board has solicited public feedback on the project and received 695 objections. After hearing the objections raised, the board decided to make 4.35343 hectares of land of 6 dense population and 4 compact areas acquisition-free.

Notably, after the Supreme Court verdict cleared the way for the construction of Ram Mandir at the rightful birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya, a myriad of development projects including those related to the railway station, airport and road widening. Earlier, the administration demolished several houses and shops belonging to residents leading to the displacement of numerous families. It was alleged that several locals were not paid fair compensation for their demolished/acquired properties or alternative arrangements, exacerbating their plight and sense of injustice.

Opposition parties capitalised on the discontent, portraying the BJP as insensitive to the needs and well-being of the local population. They highlighted the BJP’s failure to balance development with the preservation of livelihoods. This is also seen as a major factor why the reason why even Ram Mandir’s inauguration could not essentially translate into BJP candidate Lallu Singh’s victory.

The recent decision taken by the authorities, however, indicates a much-needed change in approach. Alongside financial compensation, providing temporary housing, and support for restarting businesses to affected locals can also help the ruling BJP regain public trust. Notably, the Housing and Development Board’s decision to refrain from demolishing temples as well as take the public into confidence before initiating the construction work is a good step to avoid unilateral decisions that lead to public dissatisfaction. This balanced approach will be crucial for the BJP to regain its footing and ensure sustainable support before the 2027 assembly elections and the next general elections as well.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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