//Holy places out of civic rulebook

Holy places out of civic rulebook

Prarthna Gahilote, CNN-IBN, May 03, 2006 at 08:27

ew Delhi: The removal of a dargah in Vadodara may have caused a riot but such extensions on public land and roads is not uncommon even in Delhi.
For civic bodies in Delhi, places of worship falling in their area are kept out of the rulebook and are either referred to the temple trust or the Waqf Board.

Authorities choose the safe way out of looking the other way when they come across these extensions. And religious leaders approve of that attitude.

Says Imam of Fatehpuri mosque, Maulvi Mouzzam Ahmed, "If there is encroachment then the authorities should let it be but make sure that the religious shrine does not encroach more land."

"However, removing the existing shrine is not a good idea as you play with the sentiments of the people. The authorities should learn to live with it and create solutions around this problem," he adds.

But such occupation of public land is quite a common phenomenon. Even temple trusts cannot avoid extending its structures over the years.

These additions take up space on pavements and pedestrian walkways, sometimes even jutting out on main roads.

There are a few critics of this leniency showed to such irregular building additions.

Former urban development minsiter, Jagmohan says, "There is an overwhelming majority of so called religious shrines that are illegal and unauthorised encroachments. A mosque or a temple that is an encroachment in one place can easily be relocated."

It's an old problem but the fear of hurting sentiments ties down officials. Such offences are pardoned almost the moment they are committed.

Removal of encroachments has always invited public anger, especially when what comes in the right of way is people's religious sentiments.