Museum wahin banayenge: Centre & UP to fast-track Ramayan Museum in Ayodhya
The Yogi Adityanath government and the Centre are together fast-tracking the Ramayan museum project in Ayodhya, which has a strong political message.
The Union government had initially earmarked Rs 154 crore for the Ramayana museum but has now allocated Rs 500 crore.
The Centre had been pressing the previous UP government for the construction of museum, which is to be a part of the Ramayan Circuit proposed to come up at a cost of Rs 225 crore. The Ramayan Circuit projects are proposed in Ayodhya, Chitrakoot and Shringverpur.
With the museum alone being Rs 500 crore, the allocation for Ramayan Circuit is also likely to zoom.
A little over a month after Yogi Adityanath met the Union Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma to talk about the setting up of the museum in Ayodhya, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Tourism Minister of Uttar Pradesh, met Sharma on April 27 to expedite the project which is scheduled to be completed in 18 months.
Days after taking over as Chief Minister, Adityanath met Sharma on March 21 and theoretically cleared the allotment of 25 acres of land for the museum which is said to come up 20 kilometres away from the disputed shrine. Its distance from the disputed structure, though, was not yet clear as some sources said that it was only 10-15, or even fewer, kilometres away.
With Babri Masjid land dispute case pending before the Supreme Court, the distance could be a critical factor in the project.
The land was identified by the Union Culture Ministry.
The Centre had approached the Akhilesh Yadav government last year for allotment of land and sanctioned Rs 154 crore for the museum. With assembly elections being around the corner, the Samajwadi government did not allot land for the BJP-sponsored project allegedly for fear of losing Muslim votes.
Instead, in October last year Akhilesh Yadav announced the setting up of a “world class” Ramlila theme park in the temple town. The proposal was approved by the state cabinet. The then state government had earlier sanctioned the construction of an amphitheatre and Bhajan Sandhya Sthal in the holy city at a cost of Rs 15 crore.
After the meeting with Joshi, Mahesh Sharma said that the Rs 154-crore allocation for the Ramayana has now been increased. He asked Joshi to submit a detailed project within a fortnight to facilitate early allocation of funds and early start of the project.
Joshi confirmed that the Ramayan museum will be constructed in 18 months at a cost of Rs 500 crore.
Asked if the BJP government was only implementing Akhilesh government’s project, Joshi said, “We are redoing it. A new detailed project report is being prepared with a lot of local input.”
She rejected outright the suggestion that the completion of the project was being hastened keeping the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in mind.
“It is a purely tourism-related issue,” she replied.
Referring to the disputed site, Joshi is reported to have said that she cannot comment on a matter that was sub-judice but everything around that will be developed from the point of view of tourism. Under the project roads, including the panchkosi circumambulation path, are to be beautified and bazaars, railway station and bus stand renovated.
The government plans to develop tourism centres in the state with a “holistic approach” with an investment of about Rs 1000 crore.
The focus of the state government being religious places, Ramleela in Ayodhya is set for revival from the coming Dussehra festival. During a presentation of the religious endowment department a few days ago, the chief minister instructed the officials to revive the traditional Ramleela of Ayodhya, besides Rasleela in Mathura and bhajan sandhya evenings in Chitrakoot.