New Delhi: The Rajasthan government on Thursday sought for a special clearance from the central government to denotify a block at a wildlife sanctuary in the state’s Bharatpur to allow mining of the ‘Bansi Paharpur’ pink sandstone for the construction of the grand Ram temple in Ayodhya. Also Read - Kartik Purnima 2020: Ayodhya Celebrates Dev Diwali by Lighting 51,000 Earthen Lamps, Laser Show Held at Varanasi

According to a report by The Indian Express, the functionaries of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) warned the Congress government of blocking sandstone mining, after which the Ashok Gehlot administration immediately sought clearance from the Centre’s Forest and Wildlife Acts on “highest priority”. Also Read - Diwali 2020 in Ayodhya, Delhi, Amritsar: People Offer Prayers at Golden Temple, Jhandewalan Mandir And Hanuman Garhi - See Pics

The mining department of Rajasthan, the Bharatpur district administration and the police had earlier issued a mining ban at Bansi Paharpur after receiving information about illegal mining, causing hurdles in the construction of the Ram temple that has sourced more than 1 lakh cubic feet of this unique sandstone to get the desired beautiful pink shade. Also Read - Ayodhya Lights up on Deepotsav With Over Six Lakh Diyas on Saryu Banks, Sets Another Guinnesss Record

While the 199-sq-km Band Baretha wildlife sanctuary was notified in 1985, sandstone mines have been operational in the area since the 1960s.

On paper, mining for the Bansi Paharpur sandstone has been banned since 2016. However, illegal occupations continued and the pink stone kept being available in the grey market, the Express report stated.

“Illegal mining has been rampant as our pink sandstone fetches more — Rs 500 per cubic feet — than the red sandstone of Dholpur. Be it the elephant statues all over Uttar Pradesh or the Ram temple, this is the stone in demand,” said Dilip Singh Rathore told The Indian Express.

“We wanted the Congress government in Rajasthan to understand that building the temple is the nation’s work. A solution has been found every time an obstruction came in its way. We will welcome any move to legalise the Bansi Paharpur mines,” Sharad Sharma, VHP’s regional spokesperson in Ayodhya, told The Indian Express.

In February 2020, PM Narendra Modi had announced the constitution of Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra, to oversee the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and the construction of the grand temple began on August 20.