New Delhi: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, which is busy preparing for US President Donald Trump’s visit, is reportedly building a wall to mask a slum along a route Trump will likely take.
Trump arrives on 24 February and PM Narendra Modi is expected to take him on a roadshow.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the wall will go up on the road connecting Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to Indira Bridge. A senior municipal official said, “The 6-7 feet high wall is being erected to cover the slum area on an estimated 600-metre stretch. This will be followed by a plantation drive along the stretch.” The administration intends to plant date palms along the Sabarmati riverfront.
The slum in question — Saraniyavaas — inhabits over 2,500 people and hosts 500 kaccha houses.
This isn’t the first time India’s slums have been hidden or shut down ahead of a major diplomatic visit. ThePrint takes a look at other instances when the government made similar moves.
Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s visit, 2017
Back in September 2017, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe visited Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in Gujarat. During their three-day visit, Abe and PM Modi presided over the stone-laying ceremony of the Rs 1 lakh crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project.
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Abe’s visit also made headlines because the government put huge green cloths to screen the slums from the roads. This was in addition to the installation of fluorescent street lights, hoardings and banners welcoming the PM.
Modi at his best again.
Ahead of Japan PM's visit Gujarat Govt hides slums in Ahmedabad by green cloth. pic.twitter.com/OT2ESZ2D74
— Joshi JI (@JoshiJi_) September 13, 2017
Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, 2017
In January 2017, the Global Summit hosted presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers of several countries in Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat. It was formally inaugurated by PM Modi. The summit is intended to attract investments in the state.
Back then too, the government used cloth to shield the Saraniyavaas slum. Over 3,000 people were believed to have been living in the 556 kaccha houses. The slum-dwellers said they felt “isolated” from the world.
A government official said, “This is a facelift exercise and there is nothing wrong in hiding slums from dignitaries’ visibility.”
Commonwealth Games, 2010
Ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games hosted in New Delhi, the government launched a massive beautification project. From new stadiums, 26 flyovers to 18 railway over-bridges, the city was completely transformed.
Part of the preparations also included the Public Works Department planting bamboo and other fast-growing plants to cover up “unpleasant sights”. Nehru Camp, a 20-year-old slum, was part of this beautification effort.
The Delhi government also launched a controversial drive which aimed to rid the city of beggars by using the anti-beggary law. Delhi’s then social welfare minister Mangat Ram Singhal announced that a dozen mobile courts had been set up for trying beggars.
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