Nepal govt allocates fund for construction of Ram Temple as it announces budget amidst political crisis

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Kathmandu, May 29 (PTI) The Nepal government on Saturday allocated Rs 350 million for the renovation of the famous Pashupatinath Temple here and also earmarked an amount for the construction of Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhyapuri as part of the Rs 1647.67 billion budget announced by the finance ministry amidst the ongoing political turmoil in the country.

Finance Minister Bishnu Poudyal also announced to exempt one month visa fee for tourists visiting Nepal with a view to promote tourism, badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry allocated Rs 20 billion to construct infrastructures for four international airports and other domestic airports.

The minister allocated Rs 350 million for renovating Pashupatinath Temple, an UNESCO heritage site, and also made a budgetary allocation for construction of Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhyapuri in Chitawan district.

However, the amount earmarked for the Ram Temple was not disclosed.

Embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli in July last year stoked a controversy after he claimed that the 'real' Ayodhya lies in Nepal, not in India and that Lord Ram was born in Thori in southern Nepal.

Following a backlash over his remarks from several quarters from both Nepal and India, Nepal's foreign ministry later issued a clarification asserting that Oli's remarks were 'not linked to any political subject and have no intention at all to hurt the feelings and sentiments of anyone.” It further stressed that his remarks 'were not meant to debasing the significance of Ayodhya and the cultural value it bears'.

'As there have been several myths and references about Shri Ram and the places associated with him, the Prime Minister was simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilisation,' the ministry had said.

The Rs 1647.67 billion budget announcement came at a time when Nepal is facing a political crisis.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

Oli's move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda'.

In February, the apex court reinstated the dissolved House, in a setback to Oli who was preparing for snap polls.

The president dissolved the 275-member House of Representatives on Saturday for the second time in five months and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19 on the advice of Oli, who is heading a minority government.

The beleaguered prime minister on Friday urged all political parties to form an all-party government and hold fresh elections.

Meanwhile, the budget also allocated Rs 63 billion for controlling the spread of coronavirus and Rs 10.03 billion for construction of railway lines.

The government also proposed to operate 100 electric buses in Kathmandu Valley within the next fiscal year with a view to reduce pollution. PTI SBP SCY AKJ SCY

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