For Ram temple ‘pink’ stone, Rajasthan’s sanctuary land opened up

The pink sandstone available in Bharatpur’s Band Baretha wildlife sanctuary is being used in the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Mining is not allowed in the sanctuary but it is set to change

Replica of the proposed Ram temple on display at Karsewakpuram, in Ayodhya. PTI File Photo

A wildlife sanctuary land has been opened up in Rajasthan for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, and an approval from the Central government is what is pending now.

Bansi Paharpur block of Bharatpur’s Band Baretha wildlife sanctuary awaits denotification under the Forest and Wildlife Acts.

In 1985, Bandh Baretha, spread across 198 square kilometres, was notified as a wildlife sanctuary.

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The Congress government in Rajasthan has sought the Centre’s clearance over the matter and it has marked it as ‘highest priority,’ according to a report in Indian Express on Thursday (November 19).

The Ashok Gehlot government wants the Centre to allow mining of the unique pink standstone that is found in the area. The stones are being used in the construction of the Ram Temple, for which, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ on August 5.

“Over 1 lakh cubic feet of Bansi Paharpur sandstone, coveted for its unique pink shade, has already been sourced as the exclusive material for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya where stockpiling began soon after the shilanyas in 1989,” the newspaper said.

In September, 27 trucks carrying slabs of pink sandstone were seized by Bharatpur administration. Since then, the supply of the sandstone has dried up, according to reports.

“We wanted the Congress government in Rajasthan to understand that building the temple is the nation’s work. A solution has been found every time an obstruction came in its way. We will welcome any move to legalise the Bansi Paharpur mines,” Sharad Sharma, VHP’s regional spokesperson in Ayodhya, told the newspaper.

“Between 40% and 45% of carving work for the ground floor is complete. We have already sourced around 1.1 lakh cubic feet of an estimated 3.5-4 lakh cubic feet of sandstone that the temple will require after the expansion in its plan,” said Sharma.

A survey has been done and the state is in the process of filing the denotification application, according to an official. “We have conducted a joint survey of the 556 hectares in question with the forest department and are in the process of filing the application for denotification,” P.S. Meena, superintending mining engineer in charge of Bharatpur circle, told the newspaper.