More news has flown in from Gujarat as regards to the US President’s visit here. It is not just the slums which are apparently being ‘walled’ to hide them from the direct view of the US President, people chewing their favourite pan-masala and spewing a mouthful of ‘red liquid’ on roads or walls will have to think twice on February 24 and 25 as the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) doesn’t want the US Prez to see this during his three-hour stay in Swachh Ahmedabad. Around 1.25 lakh people are expected to attend an event at the world’s biggest cricket stadium Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium for Trump visit.
In its bid to keep all roads and walls around the airport spotless, the health department of the AMC on last Friday sealed three pan shops at the airport circle with a notice saying that if the shopkeeper tries to remove the seal, legal actions will be taken against them.
When AV contacted Jivraj Chauhan, Deputy Mayor of Gujarat BJP said, “This grand welcome of President of America is on the lines of the kind of welcome our President or Prime Minister get when they visit the US. And the expense that we have incurred is a nominal one. The programme that will be held at Vallabbhai Stadium, Ahmedabad is on the lines of Howdy Modi that was organised when Modi was there on a visit.”
A policeman, who was deployed at the airport circle said that the shops were sealed after the civic body found improper disposal of garbage and spitting of pan-masala around the shops. An AMC official of the north zone said that the customers used to throw cigarette butts and spit pan-masala everywhere so it was difficult to keep the area clean if the shops were allowed to run. “We have decided to seal the shops till further order,” said an AMC official. A passerby Salim Shaikh said that the shops were his favourite stop-over before going to the airport.
According to additional reports, the AMC has set aside Rs 3.7 crores to beautify Ahmedabad streets with flowers from Chimmanbhai Patel Bridge to Zundal Circle and up to Motera.
Dr. Karsandas, Working President of Gujarat Congress told AV, “Earlier when Country heads visited India, we did incur expenses but this by the expenses we have incurred now, it was a kind of show off.”
All this in addition to concealing of slums that fall on the half-a-kilometre road that falls between Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad airport when the US prez visits Ahmedabad on February 24. The wall, with a height of six or seven feet, is coming up alongside the road connecting the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to Indira Bridge.
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 100 crore, it is understood. The overall cost is equivalent to about 1.5 percent of the annual budget of Gujarat. Reportedly, more than twelve thousand police officers will take part during Trump visit to the state.