The construction of the Ram Mandir heralded 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 residents, whose homes and businesses were demolished to make way for progress.

The government’s compensation scheme, based on circle rates, has yielded 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 the affected residents. This includes Rs 952.39 crore for the airport, Rs 295 crore for the Ayodhya bypass and several other amounts for projects such as Ram Path and Bhakti Path.

HUMAN COST OF PROGRESS

Despite these numbers, many locals feel the compensation is inadequate. 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 part with five bighas of land for the expansion of the airport and received Rs 60 lakh as compensation. However, he finds this amount insufficient to rebuild his house and ensure a stable income.

“This money is not enough to cover our losses,” he says, pointing to the unfinished roads and sewerage works in his new neighborhood.

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

“Our fields, our source of food and income, have disappeared,” she laments. “The compensation does not cover our living expenses.”

BUSINESS OWNERS IN NEED

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

“It’s not enough to just renovate the store,” he says, adding that he had to dip into his savings to keep his business going.

Ashok Kumar, 50, saw his entire shop seized for the project and received just Rs 1.25 lakh. He cannot afford the rent or instalments for a new shop and now sells tea on a street corner.

Ashok Kumar now sells tea on a street corner. (Photo: 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 his entire shop has also shifted to Ram Path. Though he got a shop in return, paying the rent is beyond his means. Now he survives by making laddus from his house and supplying them to other shops.

According to Gupta, the compensation was only Rs 100,000, which was not enough to start a shop, let alone a small business.

The houses built around Ram Path were also demolished for widening of the road and many of them have not been rebuilt till 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 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 not enough to repair the house.

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

GOVERNMENT’S POSITION

Responding to these complaints, District Magistrate Nitish Kumar said the compensation process was conducted fairly and with the consent of the affected families. He assured that remaining issues, such as completion of infrastructure work in displaced communities, would be addressed expeditiously.

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

Despite these assurances, many Ayodhya residents remain dissatisfied. The compensation they received, while substantial on paper, is often insufficient to cover their real losses.

As the city moves toward modernization, those who have sacrificed the most for progress still struggle with an uncertain future.

Published by:

Ashutosh Acharya

Published on:

July 4, 2024