Slum Residents Served Eviction Notice Ahead of Trump Visit

According to the residents, the AMC served eviction notices and told them to “vacate the area immediately.”

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India
5 min read
Workers construct a wall in front of a slum ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit in Ahmedabad.
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The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) on Monday, 17 February, served eviction notices to 45 families living in a slum near the newly built Motera stadium in preparation to host US President Donald Trump, likely to visit the city on 24 February, The Indian Express reports.

According to the residents, the AMC served eviction notices and informed them that they needed to “vacate the area immediately.”

Pankaj Damor (24) who is a resident of Dahod and drives vehicles on contract for the AMC, said that the AMC officials told the residents to “go wherever you want to.”

“Every family has at least four members or more. Where will we all shift in such a short duration,” he said.

Teja Meda (35), a resident of 22 years in the area, said AMC officials who came to serve the notice asked them to vacate as soon as possible.

“They told us that the head of the United States is visiting Motera stadium and so they wanted us to move out,” he added.

“All of us are construction workers, registered with Majur Adhikar Manch and, on an average, we earn Rs 300 daily.”
Teja Meda

Kishore Varna, Assistant TDO (Motera ward) at the Usmanpura office of AMC said that the notices have nothing to do with the US President’s visit.

“These slum dwellers had encroached upon a land under one of the town planning schemes and, hence, were served notices. There are some elements who are trying to take advantage of the event,” he said.

Mina Jadhav, General Secretary of Majur Adhikar Manch, a trade union working for unorganised workers in Gujarat, said that the 45 families who have been served notices are registered as construction workers with the union.

“In most of the cases, both the husband and the wife are registered as workers. There are 66 families in this settlement who are registered with us. Others are yet to be served notices. What surprises us is the speed at which the AMC is working to evict them,” he added.

Meanwhile, the walls opposite Motera Stadium are being painted with images of PM Modi and President Trump and slogans.

Ahmadabad Wall Turns Into Fence in Preparation for Trump

A wall, which was being built in an apparent effort to mask a slum along the route that US President Donald Trump is likely to take when he visits the city, is now being restricted to 4 feet and will be a fence that runs parallel to the wall – where the AMC is planning to plant bamboo and evergreen trees.

A majority of slum residents at Dev Saran, where the wall is being built, are in fear of eviction as construction continues along the 600 metre route connecting the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to Indira Bridge.

Sushilaben Saraniya (45), said that her husband’s family has been living on the government land for five decades. Her husband, a carpenter, is the sole breadwinner for their family of seven.

“They (AMC authorities) came here, demolished our houses and started constructing the wall. Now, they are asking us to leave. Where would we go? We have no idea where they would rehabilitate us,”
Sushilaben Saraniya, a resident of Dev Saran

Sonal Saraniya (50) said that the AMC had stated that alternative arrangements were being made but did not mention where. Sonal’s family survives on her husband’s income who is a cutler going around the city on his bicycle.

The owner of a small makeshift grocery shop in the slum, Bhimabhai Saraniya (45) earns Rs 100-200 on a daily basis and also expressed fear of being evicted.

“Nearly 15 shanties towards the road were pulled down last month by the corporation authorities saying that they were encroaching upon the land. Now, with this wall, they want to evict us too.”
Bhimabhai Saraniya

Wall is to Prevent Encroachments: Municipal Commissioner

Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra said that a plan of constructing houses in the area was proposed to the residents and that it would only be taken forward when they agreed to it.

“We would construct houses for them free of cost. The market value of each would be Rs 20 lakh,” he said.

On the construction of the wall, Nehra said that it was also to prevent encroachments on the footpath.

“During my visit, we noticed that some new constructions were coming up towards the footpath. A few of the dwellers voluntarily demolished them, while the AMC demolished three.”
Vijay Nehra, Municipal Commissioner

Residents said the wall has replaced green sheets that used to be put up earlier to “hide them during VIP movement”.

‘They Have Been Covering Us For Long Now’

“They are saying this wall is being constructed due to Trump’s visit. The work is on since January. During every VIP movement, they do this to us. They have been covering us for long now. This wall will lead to water-logging… this area usually gets flooded during monsoons.”
Anilbhai Jeswani (35), with a family of seven, who runs a grocery store in the slum

A similar “beautification” was done during the two-day visit of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe’s to Gujarat to attend the 12th India-Japan annual summit and the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in 2017.

Trump is set to embark on a two-day visit to India, with stops in the capital New Delhi and the western state of Gujarat, on 24 and 25 February, the White House announced on Monday, 10 February.

During his visit, Trump will participate in a grand roadshow planned along a 10-km decked-up stretch from the Ahmedabad airport to the Sabarmati Ashram.

PM Thinks Ahmedabad Only Choice for Foreign Dignitaries: Pawar

NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday, 18 February said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state Gujarat has become the preferred destination for key foreign dignitaries visiting India, PTI reported.

“Earlier, they (foreign dignitaries) used to go to places like Agra, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. It is good that in the last five years, all these people chose Ahmedabad. It is a good thing.”
Sharad Pawar

“We are happy that the country’s prime minister thinks Ahmedabad is the best place to show in India to any visiting foreign dignitary,” Pawar said.

Important global leaders who visited Gujarat after Modi became the PM in 2014 include Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Govt Trying to Hide Poverty Behind Wall After Concealing Data on Economy: Cong

The Congress on Tuesday accused the government of hiding data, including that of "lowest" consumption levels in 40 years, and asked it to make it public in order to find solutions to problems plaguing the economy, PTI reported.

It also took a jibe at the ‘Gujarat model’ development, accusing the BJP government in the state of trying to “hide poverty” by constructing a wall in Ahmedabad ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit there later this month.

"We live in times where: GDP is measured in tons, Citizen rights in volts, Nationalism in decibels, Poverty in height and length of the wall. This is BJP's 'New India'!” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter.

(With inputs from PTI)

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