Bihar to bring down illegal religious structures

The Bihar government on Thursday approved rules to remove, regularise and relocate unauthorised religious structure on the public land. But any illegal religious structure more than 30 years old would not be demolished.

“Since the government has approved ‘The Bihar Unauthorised Religious Structures Construction, Survey and Its Regularisation, Relocation and Removal Rules, 2013’, a fresh survey will be undertaken to identify illegal religious structures,” said Bihar’s Cabinet Secretary Brajesh Mehrotra.

According to the cabinet decision, any unauthorised religious structure over 30 years old will be regularised if no case is pending against it in any court of law. The consent of the local people will be taken for the relocation of the structure. However, illegal structures which are less than 30 years old will have to be removed with the help of district administration which will also ensure that no such structures come up on that land again.

On December 7, 2009, a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice M Sharma had ruled: “We direct that henceforth no authorised construction shall be carried out or permitted in the name of temple, church, mosque or gurudwara etc on public streets, public parks or other public places. In respect of the unauthorised construction of religious nature which has already taken place, the state government and union territories shall review the same on case to case basis and take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible. In order to ensure compliance of our directions, we direct all the district collectors and magistrates/deputy commissioners in charge of the districts to ensure that there is total compliance of the order passed by us.”

As per the government figures, a total of 975 unauthorised religious structures on public land were reported in Patna itself. The Patna Medical College and Hospital campus has five unauthorised places of worship, while the Patna University, which has ten constituent colleges under its jurisdiction, has 12 small and big temples on its campus.

The SC order was issued in context of a news item that 1,200 temples and 260 Islamic shrines had encroached on public lands in Gujarat. The Gujarat government removed all of them, but Nitish Kumar government could relocate only 37 unauthorised places of worship.

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