Ujjain: Tempers flew high as the religious personalities openly sounded voices of discontent against unmindful and arbitrary works sanctioned by decisions of local administration under Smart City Project, MRIDA project among others.
At a meeting, convened to discuss the issues related to city development at the Chardham Mandir premises on Sunday evening, saints, sadhus and social workers came down heavily on the authorities concerned over their random decisions which may spell harm to the heritage and legacy of the city of Mahakal.
Leading from the front Mahamandleshwar Shantiswaroopanand said, Ujjain instead of Smart City should be known as teerth city. Administration should keep us aware about the various development projects and their prudence. For proper working and relevance saints should also be included in Simhastha Fair Authority.
Criticising the short-sightedness of the local administration Swami Ranganathacharya said that without saints there is no meaning of teerth area and asked as to why Kshipra River is kept out of Smart City project. He alleged that the authorities have failed to show unbiased and non partisan approach towards removing encroachments in the area.
Mahamandleshwar Atuleshwaranand said that rather than establishing new ones and restoring existing temples the local administration is being a mute spectator even as religious sites are being dismantled. Saints should be actively involved in decision making with regard to Mahakaleshwar Temple and Simhastha Fair. Vidvat Parishad (intellectual’s council) should be reconstituted.
Mahant Vinit Giri said that Ujjain holds unique recognition as a place of cultural heritage time immemorial. Developmental works should not harm our traditional heritage at any cost. Government and administration should first consult representatives of all sects instead they have converted the entire Mahakaleshwar Temple into a commercial venture, he alleged. The authorities have become autocratic and that’s why we have to organise this meeting.
Sant Avadheshanand was of the view that Government should hand over all affairs related to sanathan dharma only to persons concerned or else should take affairs of all religions in its own hand. Simhastha Fair preparations should accompany the Smart City Project with immediate effect. Conservation and glory of the mythological, cultural and spiritual glories of Ujjain should be the top priority of the administration, he said.
Retired deputy-collector Shiv Kumar Dubey opined that Freeganj should be made smart and it should be ensured that traditional and archaeological do not get affected due to the project. He complained that entire plan is impractical. Works are being done without approval of the competent authority. Mahakal Dharmshala which was developed from the public donations is now being demolished which hurts the sentiments of donors. Inexperienced officials are posted in Ujjain. Rudra Sagar is reserved camp area, but it is being deepened.
Ex-MLA Rajendra Bharti said that we are following the beaten track as we have got quite late in holding discussions. We have wasted millions of rupees on impractical schemes, earlier. People and saints have been kept unaware about the so-called development projects.
Teerth Purohit Pt Vasudev Pujari demanded that there should be permanent administrator for the Mahakaleshwar Temple.
Astrologer Pt Anand Shankar Vyas clarified that they are not against development, but heritage sites and traditions should be protected. Construction is being done on Simhastha Fair land then where would the sadhu-sant go for erecting their camps. Arbitrary plans are being executed. Statues are being erected on public places instead of idols. Kshipra is in its bad shape now. Kartik Fair has been banned, it is highly objectionable. Traditions should not be tempered with.
Astrologer Pt Shyam Narayan Vyas insisted that Ujjain’s glorious history, culture and tradition should not be disturbed in the name of development.
Pravachankar Suman Bhai said that Kshipra, Mahakal and saints make Ujjain a Mahateerth. Development should be done on this basis only. The condition of Kshipra and Mahakaleshwar Temple is for all to see—moreover, saints are being totally ignored. Smart city should not be developed on the cost of traditions of Simhastha Fair.
Pravachankar Vijay Shankar Mehta opined that an organisation should be formed to look into the entire issue. Officials and politicians don’t have much interest and thus people should take up the issue. A blue print should be prepared for the Smart City Project and Simhastha Fair arrangements. There should be a permanent setup for these activities.
Pravachankar Sulabh Guru suggested that Ujjain should be developed as a ‘vishwas nagri’ (city of faith) and not as ‘adhunik nagri’ (modern city) or smart City. Officers use to execute sweet wills. Dharm Parishad (religion council) should be formed at non-government level so as to take-up all burning issues.
The religious personalities and social workers told Free Press that are also mulling to launch an agitation if their viewpoints are not given serious consideration soon.
Prominent among those present on the occasion included Mahamandleshwar Nardanand, Mahant Ramnath, Bhagwatilal Rajpurohit, Prakash Chittda, Ashok Prajapat, Vibhash Upadhyaya, Surendra Singh Arora, Jiyalal Sharma, Narayan Dharmadhikari, Surendra Chaturvedi, Anandilal Joshi and Anil Chandel.
MP State Pilgrimage and Fair Development Authority chairman Makhan Singh Chouhan was also invited in the meeting and he was the lone representatives from the government side. He said that pilgrimages are known due to saints and their guidance is supreme. It is a general perception that the development plans drafted by the officials are not up to the mark. We would ask for government intervention after talking with planners and executors. We will try to protect and conserve our heritage values on top priority. We want our devotional places to be known countrywide, he added.