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Project to develop Gandhi Ashram Memorial: Rupani to head governing council

The resolution dated March 5 issued by the Industries and Mines department, designates the Ahmedabad Municipal Corpor-ation (AMC) and the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (SRFDCL) to implement the project.

Estimated to cost Rs 1,200 crore, the project proposes to consolidate the properties on both sides of the Ashram road — west Ahmedabad’s arterial road, and close it as a thoroughfare. (GandhiSevagramAshram.org)

The Gujarat government in its first move toward redeveloping the Gandhi Ashram as a world class memorial, put out a resolution constituting a governing council headed by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and an executive council headed by chief principal secretary to the CM, K Kailashnathan, for the Gandhi Ashram Memorial and Precinct Development Project.

The resolution dated March 5 issued by the Industries and Mines department, designates the Ahmedabad Municipal Corpor-ation (AMC) and the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (SRFDCL) to implement the project.

Estimated to cost Rs 1,200 crore, the project proposes to consolidate the properties on both sides of the Ashram road — west Ahmedabad’s arterial road, and close it as a thoroughfare, sources told this paper.

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The 14-member governing council with Rupani as chairperson also has chief secretary to Gujarat government Anil Mukim. The council would ensure “smooth coordination between Central Government, State Government, Urban Local Body and Formal-Informal Stakeholders of the project”, the resolution said.

The executive council will ensure “coordination between the governing council and the implementation arm”. The responsibilities of the implementing agencies will include, planning, appraisal, approval and release of funds to execute the special purpose vehicle (SPV), to negotiate and form guidelines, to provide “dedicated and substantial revenue stream” so as to make the SPV “self-sustainable”, to appoint consultants for the preparation of various stages of design and planning, and to approve and sanction the design prepared by the consultants.

The base of the plan prepared by Ahmedabad-based consultants HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Ltd, for the project is a 1949-aerial shot of the Ashram when it was spread across 18-19 hectares. At present, the ashram is on five acres of land, managed by the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT). The Ashram precinct measures around 322 acres (130 Ha) of which 55 acres(22.3 ha) is proposed to be reserved for the Gandhi Ashram Memorial.

A source told The Indian Express that activities as well as buildings/constructions in and around the Ashram will be classified into either “congruent” or “incongruent” before the memorial design is laid out. “Of the total 177 buildings in the proposed 55 acres, 40 need to be preserved,” the source said.

A member of the governing council who did not wish to be named, said that talks have been “ongoing” with the residents with two proposals — a flat with ownership rights or compensation amount. “Nothing has been finalised, we are trying to tell them that while they stay on rent here (as tenants with ownership rights with the various trusts of the Gandhi Ashram), if they accept this offer they can own a house…”

“A new town plan scheme is being drafted and the road will be closed as part of it… The district collector is also conducting a survey of the residents, collecting all details… Everyone has different issues but most have understood the importance of a Gandhi Memorial… this is for Gandhi, it is not a political gesture,” the member added.

The Governing council also includes additional chief secretary of urban development and urban housing department, principal secretary of tourism, Ahmedabad district collector and municipal commissioner as well as elected parliament members — BJP Rajya Sabha MP Narhari Amin and BJP Ahmedabad West MP Kirit Solanki, “prominent national level Gandhians (as suggested by chairman)”, and representatives of SAPMT, Sabarmati Harijan Ashram Trust, Khadi Udyog and Sabarmati Ashram Gaushala.

The resolution states that the Gujarat government “has the vision for the comprehensive development of Gandhi Ashram Memorial and precinct”, and it is for the same that the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited had proposed the formation of committees.

The proposal was “under consideration of the government for some time” and the councils have thus been constituted under the resolution issued.

The executive council, headed by Kailashnathan, will have Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) chief officer, Ahmedabad district collector and municipal commissioner, secretary (planning) of General Administration Department, principal secretary of tourism department, managing director of Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited, along with the Ahmedabad Charity Commissioner. The executive council shall be responsible for compensation and relocation of “non-congruent” stakeholders of the Gandhi Ashram as well as for negotiating with formal and informal stakeholders.

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