UP govt to acquire Asaram ashram’s land for Metro rail

Lucknow:  The Uttar Pradesh government is set to acquire a major portion of the controversial godman Asaram Bapu’s ashram in Lucknow for a depot-cum-workshop for the Lucknow Metro Rail project.

The government has already completed topographical survey for 40-acre land — 12 acres fall in Asaram’s ashram — required for the depot and its acquisition process is likely to begin soon.

The religious discourse and other functions at the ashram has remained affected ever since Asaram was arrested and lodged in a jail in Jodhpur in connection with a sexual assault case lodged by a minor girl.

Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) vice-chairman A P Tiwari said the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) will acquire nearly half of the ashram along with another adjoining land, which belongs to 32nd battalion of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) on Kanpur Road.

“LDA has sent the land records of that area to LMRC officials,” Tiwari said, adding the acquisition process would be undertaken in coordination with the district administration and with payment of due compensation.

Sources said that the ashram area would be used for constructing residential and office buildings and a godown while that of the PAC would be used for the rail tracks leading to the workshop.

The ashram is located in Sarojini Nagar area of Kanpur Road and is situated just 2 km away from Amausi international airport, opposite to which a Metro station would come up.

Spread over 24 acres, the ashram houses two halls for religious discourse, several shops and a separate building for Asaram to meditate and rest. As of now, most of the ashram area is being used for farming.

Asaram’s followers staying in the ashram said the administration has not yet sent any written notice about land acquisition. They said any official statement could be given either by ashram in-charge Raghavji – who has remained out of station ever since Asaram was arrested — or by the members of Yog Vedant Sewa Samiti that runs the ashram.

They refused to give contact details of samiti members. In the detailed project report of Lucknow Metro, the consultant Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), has proposed to establish one depot-cum-workshop on Kanpur Road for project’s North-South corridor that covers around 22.34-km length and connects Amausi airport with Munshipulia near Faizabad Road.

The depot would be used for major overhaul of all the trains of North-South corridor, repairs of the corridor, lifting for replacement of heavy equipment, testing and their repair.

The state cabinet has already given nod for formation of LMRC to execute the Metro Rail project. “Lucknow Metro cell has applied in office of UP Registrar of Companies for registration of LMRC that will be headed by state chief secretary until Government of India releases its share of 20 per cent of project cost,” said an official of Lucknow Metro cell.

Metro cell chairman Rajeev Aggarwal could not be reached for comment as he was in Delhi Friday regarding approval of Ministry of Urban Development on Metro Rail’s DPR.