Trump visit: Cong says AMC building wall to mask slum area
Ahmedabad: Ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit to Ahmedabad on February 24, the opposition Congress has alleged the BJP-ruled civic body here is building a 500-metre long wall near the airport to block view of a slum colony.
The Congress said the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is constructing the wall to keep the slum colony, where people live in poverty, out of sight of the US President.
Refuting the allegations, AMC officials on Friday said the construction of the wall, around four feet in height, was approved much before Trump's Gujarat visit was finalised.
The wall is being built on an AMC-owned plot in Sardarnagar, which has several slum structures, and is situated along a road that leads to the Indira bridge on the outskirts of the city from the Ahmedabad International Airport.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner K B Thakkar said it was not clear if the route, on which the wall is being built, will be used by the US president's motorcade.
"This wall, around 500-meter-long and four feet high, has nothing to do with Trump's visit. A wall was already there since many years. After it got dilapidated, we decided to build a new one. An online tender was also issued over a month back, much before Trump's visit was announced. This is compound wall is surrounding our plot," said Thakkar.
Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi alleged the wall was being built to hide the stark reality of people living in penury in the area.
"The BJP government and the AMC are trying their best to hide reality from Trump. Instead of alleviating poverty, the ruling dispensation is hiding the poor by building a wall.
It proves that poverty has increased manifold during the BJP's 25-year rule in Gujarat.
"Such tactics of hiding poor people were also used when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the city in 2014.
This is very unfortunate," said Doshi.
According to another AMC official, this slum locality, along the road from the airport to Indira bridge, is part of Sardarnagar township and the civic body has been trying to make the lives of residents there better.
"This wall was planned over a month back and it has nothing to do with Trump's visit. Senior officials had visited the slum area to understand their problems.
"We have even constructed pay-and-use toilets for them. This wall is necessary to protect a nearby green patch from garbage dumping by slum-dwellers," the second official said.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Trump will start his two-day India visit from Ahmedabad, where he will take part in a grand roadshow, visit the Sabarmati Ashram and inaugurate a newly-built cricket stadium with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24.
During his visit to Modi's home state Gujarat, Trump, along with the Indian prime minister, would participate in a grand roadshow, planned along a 7-km stretch from the Ahmedabad airport to the Sabarmati Ashram, sources had said.
If this route is used for the road show, the slum locality near Indira bridge, which is on the opposite direction, will not come into the picture, said officials.