E-auction of Raj sandstone blocks soon for use in Ram temple

The Rajasthan government will soon be holding an online auction of mining blocks of the unique pink Bansi Paharpur sandstone, which will be used for the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya as the central government approved the conversion of 398 hectares of forestland into revenue land, confirmed officials here.

Bansi Paharpur, before this decision, was a part of the Bandh Baretha wildlife sanctuary in Bharatpur where mining was not permitted.

Additional chief secretary mines and petroleum Dr Subodh Agarawal confirmed that the approval by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) has paved way for the preparation of mining blocks in Bansi Paharpur and their e-auction and legal mining can take place in the area now,’ he said.

Although on paper no mining was allowed after 2016, illegal operations continued and the Bansi Paharpur sandstone remained available in the grey market. Last year, the Bharatpur administration seized several truckloads of this stone, while cracking down on illegal mining. As supply dwindled, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) issued a warning that supply of the stone shouldn’t stop as that might impede Ram temple construction.