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DDA seeks directions from MoHUA regarding allotment of land for Ravidas temple

|HT|


The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has sought directions from the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA) regarding the allotment of land for the reconstruction of the Ravidas temple in Tughlaqbad that was demolished on the orders of the Supreme Court in 2019, triggering protests in Delhi and Punjab. A senior DDA official aware of the matter said the agency does not have a policy to allot land free of cost to religious institutions, and the committee constituted to manage the affairs of the temple has refused to pay.

Last year, the DDA asked the Guru Ravidas Vishram Dham Mandir Chamarwala Johar Tughlakabad committee—an 11-member panel of devotees constituted by MoHUA on the directions of the SC—to pay ₹4.34 crore as land premium and ground rent for a period of 30 years for the 400sqm land in Jahapanah city forest (the original site of the temple).

MR Bali, general secretary of the 11-member committee, said, “There is resentment among the devotees of Guru Ravidas ji across the world over the inordinate delay in getting the land for the reconstruction of the temple at the site, despite the Supreme Court’s approval. The committee has decided that it will not pay for the land. We wrote to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2021 requesting him to intervene in the matter.” The Ravidas temple is said to be visited by lakhs of devotees annually. In 2018, Delhi high court held that the temple stood on encroached forest land. The high court verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2019. The DDA demolished the temple in pursuance of the apex court orders. This led to large scale protests by followers of Guru Ravidas in Punjab and Delhi, who blocked roads and national highways. Subsequently, the Centre agreed to provide land for the temple at the same site, which was approved by the top court in 2019.

The committee has been asking DDA to allot land for the temple. In response to the committee’s letter in November last year, DDA last month asked the temple panel to pay for the land. In the letter dated January 24, 2022, DDA also said that the matter has been referred to the MoHUA. “The request has been examined and it is to inform that DDA has no policy for allotment of land (for religious purpose) without charging premium….Your request cannot be acceded to in absence of any such policy to allot the land without premium. However, we have referred the matter to MoHUA, Government of India,” DDA said in the letter.

But, Bali said the Centre offered the voluntarily and the matter was settled without setting any pre-conditions. “How can the government ask the committee appointed by it to pay for the land?.”

When contacted, a senior DDA official said, “As we don’t have a policy in this regard, we have referred the matter to the ministry for further directions. Land to all religious institutes is allotted against payment of land premium.” The MoHUA officials didn’t respond to HT’s query regarding the matter.

Guru Ravidas, a 15th century poet and philosopher, is revered as a ‘satguru’ by a large section of the Scheduled Caste people and has hundreds of thousands of followers in Punjab. The community has a strong presence in the state where assembly elections are going to be held on February 20.

In January this year, Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi offered to bear the expenditure on acquiring land for the construction of the temple. When contacted, a senior functionary in the Chief Minister’s Office denied having any information about the Punjab government informing the DDA about paying for the land.

Housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri was unavailable for comment on the matter.



(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)