PM to turn Gandhi's ashram into 'world-class memorial'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters photo

The Narendra Modi-led government is all set to change the topography of the Sabarmati Ashram by turning it into a “world-class Gandhi memorial.”

The Centre has planned to expand the existing Ashram by combining all the 61 buildings which are standing since the 1930s and are spread in over 30 acres of land. These heritage buildings are run by five different trusts.

“The scheme is like recombining of the Ashram into its original form. There are other plans also like blocking the Ashram Road that divides it and making it into a silent zone and more serene,” said a trustee of Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust that manages Sabarmati Ashram.

“There seems to be a proposal from the PMO in this regard but we haven’t received any correspondence as yet. The idea seems to be good to make Ashram more serene but there is an apprehension that the changes might be grandiose or gawdy which will alter the sanctity of this place. This place is a symbol of simplicity and its serenity which should be maintained,” said a trustee of the Ashram. A notice issued by the central government-run Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to Khadi Gramodyog Prayog Samiti, Gandhi Ashram, states, to hand over the land to the Gujarat government or Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. It also says that appropriate compensation will be paid in lieu of the land. KVIC Chairman V K Saxena didn’t respond to a request for comment. Kartikeya Sarabhai, one of the trustees, confirmed that Modi has some plans for the Ashram which is likely to be announced on October 2, the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, during his visit.

He told DH, “I think that the prime minister wants to take visitors’ experience to another level by recombining the Ashram as it was initially. It will be good if he takes along all the stakeholders in confidence to achieve that goal. ”

Sources said that AMC and the Gujarat government are going to lead the change in consultation with the Prime Minister’s Office. This scheme has led to protest by people who have been residing near the Ashram premises as they may be evicted and resettled somewhere else. These 200-odd residents’ forefathers had come to the Ashram to settle with Gandhi.

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