On the occasion of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Ahmedabad on 24 February, a ‘beautification drive’ is underway in the city, similar to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Gujarat in 2017.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is constructing a wall along the Saraniyavaas slum that is on the stretch from Gandhinagar to the Ahmedabad airport.
When I read about the news in The Indian Express, I decided to go to the ground and see what was happening.
The moment I reached, I was told that the construction started early this week and labourers are working all day and night to finish the work on time.
A roadshow with US President Donald Trump and PM Narendra Modi will likely cross through this route. By then, the wall will symbolically hide India’s disparity from the US President.
Unfortunately, in the process of beautifying the city, the government is trying to make invisible several of its own citizens. It is unmoved by the difficulties faced by these slum-dwellers.
Several women I spoke to told me that there is only one water source for the entire slum area ie around 500 semi-pucca houses. These women, several of whom are day labourers, say that their standard of living hasn’t improved since the 1980s.
The government is not bothered to provide basic amenities to the poor. With no proper education, there is no opportunity for children of Saraniyavaas to think of a better future.
Under Indira Gandhi, Garibi Hatao (“Remove poverty”) became a popular slogan for poverty alleviation. Now, however, it seems as if the slogan has changed to Garibi Chhipao (“Hide poverty’)!
Whether poor or rich, every individual is an equal citizen of India. So, both the central and state governments must make sure that instead of creating walls to hide them, citizens and their rights are provided for.
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