Coimbatore:A Hindu outfit staged a protest in front of the Siddhi Vinayakar temple, near Gandhipuram signal, following reports that the temple would be demolished by the highways department to build a flyover in congested Gandhipuram.
The state highways department has drawn up plans to construct a flyover at Gandhipuram, besides Eachanari, Ukkadam and near Textool, to ease traffic in these crowded shopping localities. The state government has sanctioned Rs 148 crore for the two tier flyover in Gandhipuram and this requires land acquisition in and around Gandhipuram, said senior highways officials. The roadside Siddhi Vinayakar temple, which draws a large number of devotees at the Gandhipuram junction, is set to be demolished. On Fridayevening, the temple priest and trustees were asked by the highways officials to vacate the premises to make way for the demolition.
On Saturday morning, around 50 members of the Hindu Makkal Katchi, led by its party president Arjun Sampath, staged a protest. The party members condemned the highways officials and the district administration for planning to demolish the 50 year old temple. Mr Sampath urged the highways officials to construct the bridge through alternative routes without demolishing the temple. If the highways proceeded to demolish the temple, Hindu activists would stage a mass agitation, he warned.
Last year, too, the state highways department had stopped plans to construct the flyover, following protests by Hindu organisations. State highways officials had promised a revised design for the two-tier flyover that will not disturb the Vinayakar temple.
However, in a sudden move, highways officials have now asked the temple authorities to vacate the area. However, an official of the state highways department said collector Archana Patnaik has convened a meeting of officials of the highways and the HR&CE departments on providing alternative places for housing temples if they are demolished. However, the temple will not be removed now. “It will be done later in the course of the three-year project,” the official said.
The state government has sanctioned Rs 20 crore for the two-lane bridge near Textool, but the flyover does not involve any demolition of existing structures or land acquisition, highways officials said.