Ahmedabad Slum Dwellers Face Eviction as City is “Beautified” Ahead of Donald Trump’s India Visit

US President Donald Trumph and Indian PM Narendra Modi. Image credit - Wikimedia Commons

American President Donald Trump is scheduled to make a visit to India on February 24 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is surely in no mood to spare any efforts for welcoming him to India.
An important part of the preparations presently going on to welcome American President Donald Trump includes insuring that the newly built Motera stadium in Ahmedabad where PM Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump are soon to share the stage, is made prim and proper ahead of the later’s India visit.
In order to ensure this, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation on Monday has served eviction notices to 45 families living in a slum near the stadium.
The families that have been served an eviction notice consist of around 200 slum dwellers who are registered construction workers. These workers have been asked to vacate the slum and empty the play where they have been living for about two decades due to the upcoming “Namaste Trump” event.
This move has come about just a couple of days after the AMC building starting to build a wall allegedly to cover up the Saranyavas or Dev Saran slum on route that the US President is likely to take while making a visit to the city. The workers allege that on the day on which the notices were served, officials came in advance and told them not go to work and make arrangements to vacate the plots as early as they could.
The sudden eviction notice has put all these construction workers in a fix, as they are daily wage earners and have meagre resources to arrange an alternative accommodation with such little time in hand. These 45 families that have been served eviction notices ahead of President Trump’s visit to India are among 65 families that live about 1.5 kilometres from the Motera stadium on the road that connects the stadium with the Visat-Gandhinagar Highway.
These slum dwellers have been asked to take their belongings and vacate the slum within seven days, the government has not offered them any other alternative accommodation. In case of any appeals, they have been asked to approach the department on Wednesday. The notices were served on Monday and are dated February 11,2020, going by which the seven day period ends on Tuesday.
The authorities maintained that the slum dwellers were given notices because they had illegally grabbed land during one of the town planing schemes and thus had to be served with notices and that this had nothing to do with the American president’s visit to India. Mina Jadhav, general secretary of Majur Adhikar Manh, a trade union that works for workers in the unorganised sector in Gujarat said, “All 45 families have been served notes today by the AMC are registered as construction workers with us. In most of the cases, both the husband and 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 sped at which the AMC is working to edit them.”
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani has said that the “Namaste Trump” event, where American President Donald Trump will share the platform with Indian PM Narendra Modi at the Motera stadium next week will be a moment of pride for both Gujarat and the entire nation.
In an official statement Rupani said that visitors from across the country will come for the event in Motera. He also inspected the ongoing preparations at the newly built stadium and was updated by some senior officials f the Gujarat Cricket Association.
The decision and move of evicting the 45 families from a slum that falls on a route that President Donald Trump might take during his visit to India is a display of sheer insensitivity and injustice on the part of the authorities.
These construction workers have been living there for over two decades and in the absence of an alternative location for habitation, are now at a complete loss. Where will they take their children and how will they find an accommodation so quickly? The notice gives them just a week to evacuate the plot, without making any alternative rehabilitation arrangements for them.
This move is highly condemnable and shameful and shows how insensitive and distant the authority is from the lives of the ordinary poor. While beautification processes in Gujarat may be under full swing, the question is how fair is it for the poor people of India such as these slum dwellers whose lives have been completely tossed by the eviction notice? Can poverty be forgotten if it is pushed behind a fancy curtain of prosperity and affluence?


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