Santosh Koshy Joy
A LONG WITH THE GRAND RAM TEMPLE, a world-class growth hub is in the making at Ayodhya. A stream of development initiatives to spur business and economic activity in the wider region is in the offing. The growth story around the city is catalysed due to enhanced connectivity and state-of-the-art urban infrastructure.
Ayodhya is being built as a mega tourism city of global standards. The redevelopment of the city as per the Master Plan 2031 will be completed in a decade with an investment of over Rs 85,000 crore. Official estimates call for meeting the requirement of a daily footfall of around three lakh after the inauguration of the Ram Temple.
Eight broad categories
The development and infrastructure projects in Ayodhya have been categorised into eight broad themes: Aesthetic Ayodhya; Clean Ayodhya; Efficient Ayodhya; Accessible Ayodhya; Experiential Ayodhya; Modern Ayodhya; Cultural Ayodhya; and Healthy Ayodhya
The planning encapsulates the Ayodhya Development Authority Area of 875 sq km, something akin to the Delhi-NCR region. The current 2031 Master-planned city area comprises 133 sq km and the core city consists of 31.5 sq km which includes the Ram Temple.
Estimates suggest that after the completion of the Ram Temple and execution of the Ayodhya Master Plan 2031, it is likely to have a 1:10 ratio of residents and tourists. The greenfield township under construction will have provisions for state guest houses, hotels to cater to all types of visitors and commercial complexes will be equipped to meet all kinds of requirements of the visitors and residents.
Air, rail and road works
A 4.40-acre Tourism Facilitation Centre is coming up in Ayodhya, the estimated total cost of which will be Rs. 130 crore. The centre will have a tourism office, passenger accommodation, art and craft centre, food court, shopping mart and parking space.
A new airport, expanded Ayodhya Dham and Ayodhya Cantt railway stations, redeveloped Darshannagar and Bharakund railway stations, upgraded bus terminal, intra-city road project and Ramayana-themed boat ride facilities have also come up. Ayodhya has seen growth in connectivity infrastructure like no other city in the recent past.
The Maharishi Valmiki International Airport developed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 30 last year. The brownfield project is spread across 821 acres of land. Phase one of the Ayodhya Airport was developed at a cost of over Rs 1,450 crore. It can operate small ATR-72-600 type aircraft and will handle about 300 Peak Hour Passengers (PHP).
The second phase is in the design and engineering stage and it will involve construction of a 30,000 sq. m new terminal building capable of handling 3,200 PHP after completion.
The airport building’s facade mirrors the architectural splendour of the Ram Temple and the interiors are adorned with local art depicting the life of Bhagwan Shri Ram. With sustainability features like insulated roofing, LED lighting, rainwater harvesting, and solar power, the airport aims for a GRIHA 5-star rating, promising improved regional connectivity and a catalyst for tourism, commerce, and employment.
The Ayodhya Dham Junction Railway Station, Phase I, boasting a modern three-storey structure developed at a cost exceeding Rs 240 crore, is equipped with elevators, escalators, food plazas, shops, and various amenities, ensuring accessibility and sustainability.
The Indian Railways is revamping the existing facilities and also creating new infrastructure with an outlay of about Rs 4,372 crore. It includes doubling of rail tracks, construction of six rail over-bridges and several electrification projects.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has executed infrastructure projects worth about Rs. 37,195 crore and the Uttar Pradesh Government and its Public Works Department have invested about Rs 4,684 crore to build new roads and bridges in and around Ayodhya.
The waterway sector, too, is set to get a boost with a modern houseboat service proposed on the Sarayu River for the Naya Ghat to Guptar Ghat for pilgrims visiting the temple city. Boat rides will also be available to Raj Ghat, Laxman Ghat, Ram Ghat and Janki Ghat, where devotees will get a glimpse of the various episodes of the Ramayana through folk dances and displays.
The boats are built by Kerala-based NavAlt Solar & Electric Boats and the rides will be managed by Alaknanda Cruise Line. Within the city, the three main roads connecting the Ram temple site with the rest of Ayodhya – Ram Path, Janmabhoomi Path, and Bhakti Path – will become iconic after beautification and greenery.
The state Government has constructed six entry gates and bridges over rivers Kalyani, Gomti, and Rari. A 67.5-km-long ring road connecting Ayodhya, Gonda, and Basti is nearing completion by NHAI, with a total cost of Rs 4,793.88 crore.
Hotel industry boom
Leading brands like the Taj, Radisson and ITC Hotels to budget players such as OYO companies have all lined up to open new hotels in Ayodhya. Tata Group hospitality firm Indian Hotels Company Ltd is opening two new properties and Radisson also has a similar plan.
Another major player, ITC Hotels, is also entering Ayodhya to cater to increased demand that is projected to reach 4 crore visitors annually by 2031. Several aesthetically designed starrated tent cities are also being built in Ayodhya to cater to the increased demand of pilgrims.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Glow of devotion in cleaned-up sky
AHEAD of the Ram Temple inauguration, the city has gone wireless with clean skies and no more tangled overhead wires and cables. The glow of devotion and zeal of the devotees in the temple town will now no longer be marred by hanging wires and electric posts and transformers.
It all happened with the UP Government initiative which started in 2021. The state electricity body MVVNL launched the Rs 190-crore project to lay underneath power infrastructure in the five-km circumference of Ram temple.
An official release informs that 800-km-long power cables, including 407 km-long low tension (LT) cables, 204 km-long service (armoured) cables, 124 km 33 kV and 62 km 11 KV transmission cables, have been laid beneath the soil.
Illuminating Ayodhya has been a green task. Over 2,800 solar street lights, including 150 solar high masts, have been installed. The infrastructure will benefit around 15,000 to 20,000 power consumers around Ayodhya.
The project is slated to further extend to other parts of Ayodhya district as well.