Kerala Kaumudi Online
Wednesday, 12 May 2021 11.54 PM IST

Places of worship and control over construction


It is good that the government has voluntarily backed down from the move to relax the conditions for construction and renovation of places of worship in the state. The government was prepared to relax the previous conditions on the grounds that the permission of the local government would be sufficient to build new temples, churches and mosques. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting held two weeks ago. But the government should be considered aware of the dangers of the decision without anyone noticing. That is why a new order was issued yesterday clarifying the controversial decision. Until now, the condition was that the permission of the Collector should be obtained for the construction and renovation of religious places. The decision to remove the power from the collector and hand it over to the local bodies was taken by the cabinet meeting held two weeks ago. Naturally, the change was warmly welcomed by various religious institutions, organizations and politicians. They may be happy to think that they can easily influence the local bodies that are in their possession without waiting for the permission of the collector.

If one has the opportunity to build new ones in a state with a large number of places of worship, one should not miss the danger lurking in it. The state, which is known for its religious harmony, may have been plagued by a proliferation of places of worship over time. This should be a sign that the government has also recognized the new order tightening the rules on the issue. Prior permission is required to build new ones and renew existing ones. The government specifically warns that those responsible for granting permission will face disciplinary action if they fail.

It is suggested that constructions that undermine the existing communal harmony and peace in the country should not be allowed under any circumstances. This must be anticipated before permission can be granted for construction. If disputes arise, construction should be allowed to continue only after it has been resolved. Prior permission from the concerned authorities is also mandatory for renovation of existing places of worship. It is customary to take a liberal approach to the issue of prior permission, as it is a matter of places of worship and the convenience of no one usually coming forward with an objection. There should be no compromise on the rules to be followed in any construction. Construction and renovation work should be done in a way that does not cause any inconvenience to the neighbors and the public. Another important condition is that future road development should be taken into account when approving the construction of a new shrine. This condition is especially relevant in cities and towns. Everyone is aware of the traffic problem created by places of worship that operate along very narrow roads and at busy junctions. Most of them have been born in the last few decades. Such places of worship were not a big problem at a time when traffic was light and crowded. But that is not the case. Not only places of worship but also the small and large businesses that spring up with them can cause serious traffic problems. Even law enforcers often turn a blind eye to violations because of the issue of places of worship.

During the festive season in the city centers, the roads are completely closed. This is not only the case here but all over the country. Governments have an obligation to protect the freedom of religion as well as the freedom of movement of the citizen.

Instead of building new places of worship, priority should be given to preserving existing ones. This will save money. Things related to the construction of new religious places should not be a scene to show off.

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