The consecration of the Ram Mandir is a watershed event and is likely to help the temple town of Ayodhya in many ways. It will catapult Ayodhya’s ranking among the popular tourist destinations, helping Uttar Pradesh (UP) benefit from the revenue to be earned from additional tourist arrivals. The large amount being spent on infrastructure development is likely to help UP’s economy reap the benefits. 

UP is already very popular among domestic and foreign tourists, given its many iconic temples and the crowning glory, Taj Mahal. The State had the largest share of domestic tourist arrivals in 2022 at 18.4 per cent, according to SBI ecowrap report. 

Tourist arrivals

Of the 75 districts in UP in 2022, Ayodhya ranked fourth with 2.39 crore tourist visits. The top three districts with the most tourist visits in UP were Varanasi, Mathura, and Prayagraj, with 7.17 crore, 6.53 crore, and 2.60 crore visits, respectively. With the consecration of Ram Mandir, tourist arrival in Ayodhya is expected to more than double to 5 crore every year, according to global brokerage firm Jefferies. 

“Given the completion of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya this year and a melange of initiatives taken by the UP government to promote tourism, we believe the total expenditure by tourists (domestic plus foreign) in UP may cross ₹4-lakh crore mark by end of this year, helping the State government earn an additional tax revenue of ₹20,000-25,000 crore due to huge spurt in number of tourists during FY25,” says the ecowrap report. 

Professor Ashutosh Sinha of Economics and Rural Development at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University in Faizabad says: “Cities such as Allahabad, Agra, and Varanasi are already famous for monuments and religious pilgrimages, receiving adequate monetary attention from the state. Unlike them, Ayodhya is a smaller district. Now, with the government investing a higher amount of money, it can certainly contribute to job creation.” 

On the other hand, the UP government is also making efforts to develop and beautify the city. Data from the Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA) reveals that around 187 projects are being carried out by the government with an expenditure of ₹30,570 crore. Approximately 53 per cent (₹16,012 crore) of the budget is allocated to 55 road projects, while 20 per cent (₹6,118 crore) is being spent on 56 building projects distributed among various departments of ADA. 

The projects in Ayodhya commenced in January 2011, including the redevelopment of government schools in the vicinity. As of now, 44 per cent of these projects have been completed. The UP government plans to conclude this effort with its final project, the 1,407-acre Ayodhya Greenfield Township project, which is expected to be completed by October 2028. The government has already initiated the acquisition of large-scale land to advance this project. 

Problems persist

However, there are some problems, too. Nandu Kumar Gupta, President of Ayodhya Udyog Vyapar Mandal Trade Union, remarked: “There is a lack of consensus between the government and people whose land has been acquired for the development drive. Many individuals have been displaced from their land, pointing out that its implementation lacks systematicity.” 

36-year-old Irrfan Mohammed, whose land was acquired in the beautification process, says: “The money given to me was not sufficient, as the cost of the shop was five times more than what I received from the government as reimbursement.”