Lord Ram temple resonates in electionsLord Ram temple resonates in elections

Virendra Singh Rawat

Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Nyas (Trust) has incurred Rs 900 crore on the construction of a grandiose Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya.

According to the Nyas officials, while Rs 900 crore had been spent between February 5, 2020 and March 31, 2023, a sume of Rs 3,000 crore was still in the bank accounts of the Trust.

On Saturday (Oct 7), senior Trust officials, including secretary Champat Rai, held a meeting in Ayodhya wherein 18 points were discussed, including the legal procedure to be adopted for accepting donations in foreign currency.

The Trust had applied for seeking permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

While the much awaited Lord Ram temple will witness consecration (pran pratishtha) on January 22, 2024, the under-construction Ayodhya international airport is likely to become operational by December 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and an estimated 10,000 dignitaries are expected to attend the mega consecration ceremony.

The first phase of the ‘Maryada Purushottam Shriram International Airport’ in Ayodhya, spanning 821 acres and costing Rs 400 crore, is expected to be complete in the next couple of weeks, thus paving way for the launch of commercial flights in Nov-Dec 2023.

The airport will connect the temple town with four cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Later, more flights and destinations will be added to the air connectivity repertoire of Ayodhya.

The airport will catalyse the metamorphosis of the sleepy town into a thriving tourism hotspot in India as well as South Asia.

The absence of a full-fledged airport greatly hampered the tourism potential of Ayodhya, which is a holy place for devout Hindus owing to the mythological birthplace of Lord Ram, who is among the most reverred incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

So far, Ayodhya had a small airstrip to handle non-commercial and chartered flights. However, despite the absence of an airport, Ayodhya witnessed an upsurge in tourist arrival after the construction of Lord Ram temple started in August 2020.

The number of backpackers in Ayodhya breached the level of 20 million in the first six months of 2022.

Interestingly, the planned transformation of Ayodhya is estimated to cost Rs 30,000 crore to the exchequer under ‘Ayodhya Vision 2047’ theme. These funds are targetted to be invested in about 260 projects pertaining to tourism, aviation, infrastructure, housing, medical, energy, culture, urban development, transport etc.

The expenditure will be incurred jointly by the central and the UP governments. These projects include Smart City Mission, widening of roads, modern bus terminals, unclogging the overhead electricity supply cables, beautification of ghats, cultural centres etc.

However, the sum of Rs 30,000 crore does not comprise the cost of Ram temple. The project has been undertaken by a private trust ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra’ with the requisite funds being raised through private donations and crowd funding.

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Last year, Champat Rai had said, the Ram temple could cost Rs 1,800 crore based on the latest revised estimate.

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