The Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust to receive foreign funds for the construction of the Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya, announced the trust’s general secretary Champat Rai on Wednesday.

The development comes in the backdrop of over 100 non-profits losing their Foreign Contribution Regulation Act licence in a seven-month period as of March 23. This includes Oxfam India, Centre for Policy Research, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Program for Social Action.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act regulates foreign contributions to Indian entities and their subsidiaries.

The rules under the law require any organisation that wants to register itself to have existed for at least three years and to have spent a minimum of Rs 15 lakh on its core activities during the last three financial years for the benefit of the society.

Rai had said earlier this month that the trust, overseeing the construction of the temple, had submitted an application for registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. He said that nearly Rs 900 crore had been spent for the construction and Rs 3,000 crore was remaining with the trust, reported PTI.

The general secretary noted that all prior analyses of the speed of construction work had “turned out wrong”.

“In the beginning, we had thought that the work would be completed in these many years, but none of us had the experience of working with stone,” said Rai. “Larson & Toubro and Tata [companies engaged in the construction work] did not have that experience. They had never done stone-carving, and hence, all analyses were wrong.”

He said that the first phase of the construction will be completed by January 2024. It will include the ground floor of the temple and the consecration of the idol of deity Ram. The second phase will be completed by the end of 2024 and the third phase by December 2025.

The Ram temple’s construction began in August 2020, over two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid its foundation stone at an elaborate ceremony in Ayodhya. Modi had laid a symbolic 40-kg silver brick in the sanctum sanctorum, or innermost sanctuary, to mark the start of the temple construction in Ayodhya.

A landmark Supreme Court verdict in November 2019 paved the way for the construction. The court had ruled that the disputed land in Ayodhya would be handed over to a government-run trust for the construction of a Ram temple.

The court had also said that the demolition of Babri Masjid was illegal and directed the government to acquire an alternative plot of land to build a mosque. The mosque in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992, by “kar sevaks” who claimed that an ancient Ram temple stood at the same site.