Ramayan circuit: Opportunity for development
Nepal has just come out of a long political fever. Beyond all outcomes of the elections people can be assured that the nation has a stable government after ages.
During the federal and provincial election campaigns most of the leaders floated dreams of development in the voters. As this article is centralised to the development possibility of Janakpurdham, it is necessary to depict that Rajendra Mahato, central leader of Rastriya Janata Party, Nepal (RJPN) has won from Janakpurdham constituency defeating veteran leader Bimlendra Nidhi, Ex-deputy prime minister. During the election campaign Mahato claimed that Nidhi had won from this constituency many times but he could not develop Janakpurdham. Mahato had also persuaded voters to vote for him as he would make Janakpurdham a developed city.
But he did not provide any roadmaps for developing Janakpurdham. There are many ways to develop the city. I have tried to shed lights upon a project Ramayan Circuit which is possibly one of the landmark projects for the elected leaders and bodies concerned.
In November 2017 a two-day international conference on Ramayan Circuit was organised in Janakpurdham. The conference saw a huge number of participants. Prior to the conference, a big number of people did not know about the concept of Ramayan Circuit. As far as I know, most of the people do not know about the twin city agreement forged in 2014 between Nepal and India during the visit of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The specific agreement was signed to develop Ayodhya and Janakpurdham as twin cities.
Jahan Jahan Charan Pare Raghubar ki or places where Lord Ram put his steps—the basic concept of Ramayan Circuit lies in this quote. Dr Ram Avatar Sharma, an Indian researcher, has travelled places where Lord Ram walked through during his fourteen years of exile to the jungle. Dr Sharma has identified those places and published a book Jahan Jahan Ram Charan Chali Jahin and submitted it to Indian government. This book popularised the concept of Ramayan Circuit and came into government priority. Currently, Indian government has a plan to connect all the places when Lord Ram put his steps. From this, two outputs would be seen. First, legacy of Hindu culture would be preserved. Second, after developing the circuit the concerned and adjoining places would get developed, basically through promotion of tourism.
In this regard, some districts in Nepal would get connected with the circuit and Lord Ram came to Janakpurdham to wed Goddess Sita.
In the inaugural session of the conference the then Culture Minister of Nepal, Jitendra Naryan Dev said, “Culture and language have stronger bonding than political relations; India and Nepal have unique relationship, and such programme will further strengthen it”. Similarly, shedding light upon old ties between both the countries; Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Manjeev Singh Puri said, “It is necessary to carry forward this relationship as per the requirements of modern time.” He added that India will provide all possible help, if required.
The basic objective of the conference was to give thrust on all aspects of social, cultural and religious ties between Mithila and Awadh besides developing connectivity between Janakpur and Ayodhya.
The agreement between Nepal and India has witnessed no progress. However, Mithila Avadh Culture Preservation Council (MACPC) has started to give concrete shape to the issues incorporated in the agreement. Clause 3 of the agreement goes like- “to exchange the expertise and cooperation in the field of service delivery, transport, shelter, education, culture, sports, waste water and solid management, infrastructure, environment, public health, science and technology, tourism, heritage management, urban renewal, urban and regional planning and related matters.”
When the government declared Janakpurdham as a temporary capital of Province 2, another city in the province Birgunj has staked its claims to be the best place for the capital. The provincial government will work on it. But when Janakpurdham challenges Birgunj it must think about the basic infrastructure. A big project supported by Asian Development Bank (ADB) is in its implementation phase for the development of Janakpurdham but the sluggishness of project and ignorance over qualitative work has contributed to dissatisfaction among the local population.
Janakpurdham is also called a ‘city of ponds’ but ponds are in vulnerable condition. Most of the ponds are ruined and their ridges are illegally occupied by the people. Mosquitoes and dust have made people’s life difficult.
In this scenario, the twin city agreement could generate hope for Janakpurdham.
Two things must be done as soon as possible. First, since the twin cities agreement covers all the dynamics which are needed to make a city developed, all the authorities concerned should prioritse it. The elected mayor and political leaders belonging to Janakpurdham have to be proactive to materialise the agreement. Second, the Indian Embassy to Nepal must renew the agreement.
The writer is a freelancer.
Published on 1 April 2018