The construction of the Ram Mandir ushered in a wave of development projects in Ayodhya, including the creation of Ram Path, Bhakti Path, a new ghat, and an airport. While these projects promised to transform the city, they came at a significant cost to many locals, whose homes and businesses were demolished to make way for progress.

The government’s compensation plan, based on circle rates, has provided financial settlements ranging from Rs 12 lakh per bigha for land near the airport to Rs 75 lakh per bigha in urban areas.

According to official figures, a total of Rs 1,733 crore has been disbursed to affected residents. This includes Rs 952.39 crore for the airport, Rs 295 crore for the Ayodhya bypass, and various other amounts for projects like Ram Path and Bhakti Path.

HUMAN COST OF PROGRESS

Despite these numbers, many locals feel the compensation is insufficient. The stories of residents like Ramkumar and Shanti Devi illustrate the challenges faced by those who have lost their land and livelihoods.

Ramkumar, a 50-year-old resident of Dharmpur, had to share with five bighas of land for the airport expansion, receiving Rs 60 lakh in compensation. However, he finds this amount inadequate to rebuild his home and secure a stable income.

“This money isn’t enough to cover our losses,” he says, pointing to the unfinished road and drainage work in his new neighbourhood.

Similarly, Shanti Devi, 65, received Rs 75 lakh for her six bighas of land. Her large family of 12 now struggles to make ends meet.

“Our fields, our source of food and income, are gone,” she laments. “Compensation doesn’t cover our living costs.”

BUSINESS OWNERS IN DISTRESS

Shop owners along the Ram Path have faced their own set of challenges. Sohanlal, 51, whose shop was partially demolished for road widening, received Rs 1.5 lakh.

“It’s not enough to renovate the shop,” he says, noting that he had to dip into his savings to keep his business running.

Ashok Kumar, 50, had his entire shop taken for the project, receiving just Rs 1.25 lakh. Unable to afford rent or installations for a new shop, he now sells tea on a street corner.

Ashok Kumar now sells tea on a street corner. (Picture: India Today)

“The compensation doesn’t cover the cost of a new shop,” he explains. “I’m trying to make ends meet with this tea stall.”

Another shopkeeper, Nand Kumar Gupta, says that his entire shop was also shifted to Ram Path. Although he received a shop in return, paying the rent is beyond his capacity. Now he is managing by making laddus from his home and supplying them to other shops.

Gupta says that the compensation amount was just Rs 1 lakh, which was insufficient to start a shop, let alone a small business.

The houses built around Ram Path were also demolished for road widening, and many of them have not been rebuilt to date. Showing their house, Seema and Anoop Nishad say that their house, 15 feet from the road, was demolished and is in such a state that they do not have the money to repair it. When the house was demolished, the walls and roof inside were also damaged due to vibrations, weakening the house. They received Rs 1.4 lakh as compensation, but this amount is insufficient to repair the house.

Another family has not been able to repair their house until now. Kishan Kumar lives with his wife and entire family in a house completely damaged at the front because it was also demolished during the construction of Ram Path. He says that he received Rs 1.25 lakh as compensation, but the house is in such a condition that he cannot repair it. He acknowledges that he received compensation, but it is not enough to cover the loss, and he will only be able to rebuild the house when he arranges more money.

GOVERNMENT’S STAND

In response to these grievances, District Magistrate Nitish Kumar maintains that the compensation process was carried out fairly and with the consent of the affected families. He assures that remaining issues, such as completing infrastructure work in displaced communities, will be addressed promptly.

“It is true that some people have problems, but the administration is listening to them and helping them. Some misleading things are being said, but they are absolutely baseless. The government has given compensation of more than Rs 952 crores so far. This process is ongoing, and compensation is also being provided for future work,” said the DM.

Despite these assurances, many Ayodhya residents remain dissatisfied. The compensation they received, while significant on paper, often falls short of covering their real-world losses.

As the city marches toward modernisation, those who have sacrificed the most for progress continue to grapple with an uncertain future.

Published By:

Ashutosh Acharya

Published On:

Jul 4, 2024