A proposal by the Yogi Adityanath government to build a corridor around the famous Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan, in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura district, on the lines of Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor project in Varanasi, is facing strong opposition from local residents who say they will be displaced, and their daily lives disrupted by the proposed project. Priests and shopkeepers are writing letters to the Chief Minister with their blood, requesting him to shelve the project.
Markets in the area have been shut for two days now, and temple priests have also come out in support of local residents. The matter has reached the court too -- the Allahabad High Court is hearing the matter. The Supreme Court will also hear it later this month.
The state government will acquire five acres of land around the iconic temple, which houses around 300 temples and residential buildings, where people have lived for hundreds of years. These 300 buildings will reportedly be demolished if the corridor is built.
Protesting residents say that they have been worshipping the deity by building temples in their homes for hundreds of years, and their faith will be hurt if those are demolished. After the order of the High Court on the corridor, the District Magistrate of Mathura formed an eight-member committee and conducted a survey of more than 200 buildings around the temple, and marked them.
On December 20, 2022, the Allahabad High Court had ordered a survey for the corridor. The Uttar Pradesh government will present its survey report before the High Court today.
The Banke Bihari temple is the most famous temple in Vrindavan, which is 20 kms away from Mathura, a town believed by many to be home to the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
The government says the corridor is necessary so that more people can be accommodated at the temple, and would, in fact, make it easier for devotees to reach there. A proposal for the corridor and the redevelopment of the surrounding area was discussed by the UP government in 2022, and a survey was conducted to identify houses and establishments that may need to be razed.
Lok Sabha MP from Mathura, BJP's Hema Malini, had on Sunday said that the corridor will open the gates for international tourism, facilitating pilgrims to pay their obeisance to the deity without hassle. Acknowledging the concerns of traders, priests, and residents, she had assured that all stakeholders' interests would be taken into account.
"The frequent arrival of international tourists will pave the way for employment also," Hema Malini had said in a statement.
Speaking to reporters today, she reiterated that everyone's concerns will be kept in mind.
"I also want that Vrindavan remain as it is. I want the beauty of the temple to remain like how it was in ancient times, the corridor will be built accordingly. It is our responsibility that nobody be inconvenienced by the project. Everyone will get space, all traders will also get facilities. The most important thing is that it will make it safe and secure for the visiting public," she said.