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Modi ends 2023 with $2bn infra push in sacred town

The Indian PM unveiled dozens of projects in Ayodhya, where the Ram temple is being built as his party’s election promise

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched projects worth 157 billion rupees ($2 billion) in Ayodhya, a town considered sacred by Hindus, in the Uttar Pradesh state.  

During his visit to the town on Saturday, Modi laid the foundation stone for 46 projects, including those for the development of Ayodhya and its surrounding areas, and other projects worth about $550 million across Uttar Pradesh, the Indian state-owned outlet DD News reported.   

Ayodhya, where a massive project to build a temple dedicated to the Indian god Ram is underway, will now be linked to the rest of India through the Maharshi Valmiki airport, named after a Hindu saint. The airport can handle one million passengers annually. Furthermore, the Ayodhya railway station was redeveloped into a modern railway hub equipped with lifts, escalators, food plazas, shops, cloakrooms, child care rooms, and waiting halls.   


Construction of the temple itself could cost the Indian government around 18 billion rupees ($216 million), officials of the trust responsible for the project told The Hindu newspaper recently. 

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A view of the construction site of the Ram temple at Ayodhya, July 9, 2023, Lucknow, India.
Ayodhya’s reincarnation: Massive temple construction brings cultural and economic boom to this rural town from the Ramayana

Speaking to a massive gathering in Ayodhya, the Indian leader said that the 1.4 billion Indians should celebrate January 22, the day when the temple will be consecrated, similarly to Diwali, a Hindu festival during which people light earthen lamps outside their homes. Indians believe that Rama, the protagonist of the Hindu epic ‘Ramayana’, was born in Ayodhya. Diwali, which is celebrated every winter, celebrates the Indian god’s eventual defeat of the demon Ravana, and his triumphant return home. 

Modi urged people to visit the temple town, which has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past several years, but also reminded would-be visitors to avoid large crowds on the consecration day. Nearly 8,000 dignitaries have been invited to attend the ceremony, according to India media. Around 15% of the laborers working at the construction site will also get invites, the reports said.   


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The Ram temple in Ayodhya is being built after a lengthy legal tussle as a mosque had once stood at the site. The construction of the temple was a major issue for Modi heading into the last national election in 2019. Next year is also crucial for Modi, as another round of national elections to determine the next prime minister will be held between April and May of 2024. 

In 1992, the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya, built in the 16th century, was destroyed by Hindu activists who believed that it was built on the ruins of a Ram temple, sparking massive communal riots, which left between 2,000 and 3,000 dead, according to various estimates. A trial began 18 years after the incident, centering on whether Hindus or Muslims were the rightful owners of the land, and proceeded at a snail’s pace. In 2019, the Supreme Court of India sided with the Hindus, paving the way for a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity to be erected on the contested land.


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December 31, 2023 at 06:09PM

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