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Concealing slums to hide from Trump’s eye

Beautification drives of a city before the arrival of a powerful World personality is not an unusual matter. But the Gujarat administration has gone a step further for the visit of the US President, Donald Trump who is to arrive here on February 24.

In its bid to conceal slums and any sights of poverty that may catch the attention of the US President, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is building half-a-kilometre long wall on the stretch between the Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad airport. The wall, with a height of six or seven feet, will come up alongside the road connecting the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to Indira Bridge.

This is the route that the US President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take on February 24 for their road show when the two visit the state for a massive event at the newly built Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium on the lines of ‘Howdy Modi’ which was held in Houston last year.

The wall is being built to hide the more than 500 kutcha houses at the Dev Saran or Saraniyavaas slum area. The slums have an estimated population of 2,500.

Once the slums are concealed, plantation of date palms will be done along the stretch as part of the beautification drive. Roads that were in dire need for repair and were not resurfaced for years will also be re-laid for the visit. In all, 16 roads will be resurfaced for Trump’s visit and decorative lighting may also be installed along the route the US President takes.

The overall cost of the beautification is expected to be around Rs 50 crore, it is understood.

A similar exercise was taken up before the visit of Trump’s daughter Ivanka to Hyderabad in 2017when police rounded up beggars from streets and detained them to hide the poverty on display. Such drives were also held when Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe visited Gujarat for two days in 2017 and when China’s President Xi Jinping visited the state in 2014.

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