AHMEDABAD: Fifteen years ago, Chandrakant Sompura, an Ahmedabad-based temple architect, was asked by Ashok Singhal, chief of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, to design and build the Ram Janmabhoomi temple. Today, the project has been more or less abandoned.
Sompura said people’s enthusiasm for the temple has diminished to such an extent that few greet him with the customary cry of Jai Shri Ram these days. The workshop at Karsevakpuram – some 4km from the temple site – which once buzzed with activity has virtually emptied. “Two years ago, there were 300 to 400 artisans working at the site,” said Sompura.
“Now, only a handful remain. Since funds have reduced to a trickle, even they will abandon work.”
The few artisans who continue to work at the site have been asked to carry on as if nothing has changed. But for the controversial project, the situation is starkly different from the frenetic circumstances of 1991. Even the workshops in Pindwara, Rajasthan, which honed and sculpted stones for the temple have been closed.
The political significance of the project seems to have dwindled for its two main campaigners. The BJP seems to have lost interest and the VHP is no longer able to infuse funds. Of late, Singhal has visited the site every four months or so; no senior political leader has made the trip. The legal wrangles have already stalled work on the actual temple site. But with political support for the project flagging, the temple’s future is unclear.
Sompura said the project cost has gone up to Rs25 crore, but only Rs10 crore have been spent so far. “We have been able to complete just half of the project in 15 years,” he said. “So far, work on two storeys is complete. This includes pillars, gates, plinths, walls and roof. But work has not moved ahead.”
Sompura himself has not been to the site in almost a year. “Nobody has been in touch,” he said. “I feel disappointed that this could be the first project I might not see through despite working so hard for so long.”