The state government is considering a special status for Kevadia Colony, which has turned into a tourist hub after the inauguration of the Statue of Unity (SoU) — the 182-meter statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — in order to ensure better management of increased civic needs of the area.
With as many as 30 peripheral projects set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31 at SoU’s first anniversary, the administration has felt the need to separate Kevadia from the Gram Panchayat.
According to senior government officials, Gram Panchayat of Limdi, under which Kevadia Colony falls, is not equipped to handle the newfound civic needs of the area. Chief Secretary JN Singh told The Indian Express that the government is working at permutations to make Kevadia a special zone for administrative purposes. Singh said, “The Gram Panchayat is unable to cope with the administrative needs of Kevadia Colony. We are working on making it a special zone in order to make things easier… something along the lines of Tirupati. Not just Kevadia, but a similar model is being worked out for Ambaji and other places.”
According to officials of the Narmada district administration where Kevadia falls, the need for a separate administration has been felt after the area’s fast-paced development and an increased inflow of tourists. IK Patel, District Collector of Narmada and CEO of SoU, said, “Basic civic needs like sanitation and water supply to Kevadia Colony are not something that the Gram Panchayat can handle anymore. The government will soon decide the best possible way to create a separate body that can administer Kevadia Colony, which is currently under the Panchayat and therefore, the Deputy Collector.”
Sources said that Somnath could also be considered as a special zone for administrative purposes. An official said, “A corporation like those being created for smart cities could be on cards for tourist areas like Kevadia Colony and Ambaji, which will have the power to execute civic projects and the funds needed for the same. A body is needed to manage the funds meant for the development of civic amenities to ensure accountability and transparency.”
Meanwhile, Kevadia Colony is preparing for grand celebrations for the first anniversary of the statue on October 31, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. While Modi visited Kevadia on his birthday on September 17, to pay obeisance to river Narmada after the Sardar Sarovar dam had touched its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of 138.68 metres, it will be Shah’s first visit to Kevadia since taking oath as the Home Minister.
Among the special events lined up for the day — which is to be celebrated as ‘Ekta Divas’ across the country — is a parade by the Central Police Reserve Forces (CRPF) and the National Security Guard (NSG) commandos. According to insiders, much of the celebrations will be themed around the recent abrogation of Article 370 from Kashmir, as well as the creation of the Union Territory. Officials say that a special mention of Sardar Patel’s vision for a unified India and the then incomplete task of Kashmir will also be part of the narrative.
Modi will also inaugurate Nutrition Park, Safari Park, Mirror Maze, Kevadia Railway station, Vishwa Van, Cactus Garden, Dinosaur park, Ekta Nursery, Arogya Van, Aquarium, Butterfly Garden, Shreshta Bharat Bhavan, Narmada Nihar and Ekta Dwar. While the Ekta Dwar has already been erected, speculations are rife that Kevadia will also be rechristened Ekta Nagri on October 31. IK Patel, however, denied it.