By MOUSHUMI DAS GUPTA
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Ayodhya for the ‘bhoomi pujan’ ceremony of Ram Mandir on 5 August, at least three members of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust, the body set up to oversee the construction of the temple, told ThePrint.
“We have got a confirmation that Prime Minister Modi will be coming to Ayodhya on 5 August to attend the bhoomipujan (foundation stone laying) ceremony of the temple. Because of security concerns, his itinerary is not being made public,” said a senior member of the Trust.
Soon after the ceremony, the construction work on the temple will officially start. The trust has set a 2024 deadline to complete the work.
The date fixed for Ram Mandir ‘bhoomi pujan’, 5 August, also happens to be the first anniversary of the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Changes in proposed temple structure
The trustees had met at Ayodhya Saturday to decide among other things the date to start construction for the temple. “Yesterday, we had decided on two dates — 3 August and 5 August. However, we were told that the PM has prior engagement on 3 August and hence 5 August was finalised,” said a second member of the trust, who did not want to be named.
During Saturday’s meeting, the trust members also decided to make some changes to the proposed temple structure.
“The model of the temple will remain the same but keeping in mind that it is going to be one of the prominent places of worship, the trust has decided to expand the temple to accommodate all devotees. The built-up area of the temple has now been increased to 57,242 square feet from the earlier 27 lakh square feet. Besides, it was also decided to increase the height of the temple from the existing 148 feet to 161 feet,” Kameshwar Chaupal, one of the trust members told ThePrint.
Will ensure Covid safety norms are followed: Trust
Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, the president of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust had on 2 July written to PM Modi, requesting him to visit Ayodhya for the temple’s foundation laying ceremony.
“Because of the Covid pandemic, we will see to it that the temple premises are not crowded on 5 August and those who are there are adhering to all protocols such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance,” the second member quoted above said.
Earlier, on March 25, the day the nationwide lockdown was enforced in India to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, the idol of Ram Lalla was moved from the sanctum sanctorum of the makeshift temple to another location so that construction of the temple could take off. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attended the rituals.
On 5 February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the formation of the Sri Ram Janma Bhumi Tirtha Kshetra to build a temple at Ayodhya, following the Supreme Court’s 9 November 2019 order. In its judgment on the decades-old dispute, the apex court had given the Modi government three months to set up a trust to oversee construction of the temple.
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This story first appeared on theprint.in