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Modi likely to kickstart Rs 1,200 cr redevelopment work of Sabarmati Ashram on March 12

The project had triggered a controversy after concerns were raised that the project may destroy the 'simplicity' of the ashram.
Last Updated 21 February 2024, 15:37 IST

Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to kickstart the Rs 1,200 crore redevelopment project of Mahatma Gandhi-founded Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on March 12.

Government sources said that if things go as planned, the PM will be officially announcing commencement of the project and related developments which includes closure of the portion of about 500 meters of the busy Ashram Road.

"According to the tentative plan, he is set to spend about an-hour-and-a-half at the ashram. There will be a presentation and discussion around the concept note prepared by the ashram trust about the nature of the ashram being redeveloped," government sources said requesting anonymity.

When contacted, officials of Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT), which manages the ashram, said that they haven't been communicated about the PM's visit as yet. However, sources said that unofficially they have been told about the visit.

"Today, a meeting was held at the ashram with a couple of stakeholders including Gandhian institutions. A government representative was also present in the meeting where it was unofficially declared that the PM will be kickstarting the redevelopment work. He will be presented with the concept note, a presentation on the overall scheme of redevelopment and announcement of closing of the road, among others," the source said.

He added, "So far, this has gone well for the SAPMT. It will be good for the ashram that the concept note has approval of the PM himself. We also believe that given the time and energy ought to be spent for the project, only the government could have done it."

The project had triggered a controversy after concerns were raised that the project may destroy the "simplicity" of the ashram after a government statement said that they wanted to turn it into a "world class memorial".

Over 140 prominent personalities signed a petition opposing the proposed redevelopment work claiming that it "severely compromises and trivialises the sanctity and importance of the present-day Ashram, mainly Hriday Kunj, surrounding buildings, and the museum."

The ashram, spread in 5 acres, where on an average 3,000 visitors turn up everyday, is managed by SAPMT. The other five associated trusts are Sabarmati Harijan Ashram Trust, Khadi Gramodyog Prayog Samiti, Sabarmati Ashram Gaushala Trust, Gujarat Harijan Sevak Sangh and Gujarat Khadi Gramodyog Mandal.

They were part of the original ashram Mahatma Gandhi founded in 1917, which was divided after Independence . The Gujarat government, which is implementing the project with the help of the Centre, had said that the present facilities were not sufficient. Besides, the ashram land is fragmented and utilised for varied purposes, it had said.

"The proposed project seeks to undo the said fragmentation and bring to life the essence of Gandhi Ashram as it originally stood. In view thereof, the 5 acre campus is to be expanded to 55 acres so as to include all 48 original Ashram buildings," the government had stated in an affidavit filed in high court in response to a PIL opposing the move. The PIL was rejected.

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(Published 21 February 2024, 15:37 IST)

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