Faith trumps civic development | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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Faith trumps civic development

Small shrines along the roadside that often spring up overnight are quite a common occurrence in India. Even if many of these shrines are virtually on the road obstructing the smooth movement of traffic, authorities mostly fail to act against them given the stiff opposition from the people attached to the shrine.

bhopal Updated: Sep 04, 2012 12:28 IST
Neeraj Santoshi

Nearly a week ago when Bhopal Municipal Corporation and district administration officials went to demolish part of the Shani temple complex in front of Palash Hotel that had been built illegally, Bajrang Dal activists had a scuffle with the cops and protested against the move. As it mostly happens in such cases, the authorities had to stop their drive midway and return.

Small shrines along the roadside that often spring up overnight are quite a common occurrence in India. Even if many of these shrines are virtually on the road obstructing the smooth movement of traffic, authorities mostly fail to act against them given the stiff opposition from the people attached to the shrine.

In Old City, you will be surprised to see a shrine having come up just in front of Benazir Gate, a heritage building. In Char Imli locality, when authorities dared to demolish a shrine in 2009, Home minister Umashankar Gupta, who was just a BJP MLA then, came to the forefront of the protest against the administration’s move.

Meanwhile BMC officials maintain they have to demolish some religious structures if they have to ensure expansion of the roads. However Muslim leaders maintain that most of the mosques/shrines in Bhopal have been built prior to independence and Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 clearly prohibits any change in the status of religious places.

There are 1,402 unauthorised religious structures in Bhopal district, including 1,262 temples, 118 mosques, seven Gurudwaras, three churches and 12 mazaars. Overall MP has 51,624 unauthorised religious structures in public places, standing third in the country.

In September 2009, the Supreme Court had directed the state governments not to permit any construction of shrines in public places. The court had asked the state governments to frame a comprehensive policy in this regard, identify the unauthorised religious structures in public places, and make plans to remove, relocate or regularise them.