All residential layouts to be formed by government agencies in the State should have sites earmarked specifically for places of worships for people belonging to different religion.

This direction is part of the guideline issued by the State Government to prevent illegal construction of places of worship and other religious structures at public places. The guideline follows the directions of the Supreme Court to all the State Governments to initiate enforcement measures to prevent unauthorised religious structures on public places.

“In future, whenever urban local bodies/rural local bodies go in for formation of new residential layouts, they shall always earmark in the plans, suitable place in the layout, for construction of temples, churches, mosques, gurdwaras, etc., as the case may be,” the guideline states. Also, the guidelines make it mandatory for the planning bodies to get the layout plans vetted by the deputy commissioner-cum-district magistrate of the respective district to ensure that the places reserved in the plan are so located, that there should not be any scope for the members belonging to different communities to complain about environment of peace and tranquillity, which is important for the conduct of prayers.

According to officials in the Urban Development Department, now all the urban development authorities, including the Bangalore Development Authority, will have to adhere to this guideline by amending their rules and statutes. The officials pointed out that hitherto the planning authorities or local bodies were not earmarking specific area for construction of a place of worship for a particular religion; they were allotting sites earmarked for civic amenity purposes, for religious groups on their request in writing, besides allowing construction of places of worship irrespective of zonal regulations. With the issuance of guidelines, the officials said, city corporations, planning authorities, municipalities, and panchayats will have to adopt a mechanism to ensure that no public place is misused or encroached upon in the name of any religion, and to earmark sufficient public place for putting up religious structures.

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