After nearly 50 years, the primary school at Karamsad in Anand district, where Sardar Patel studied from Class I to Class VI, has been restored with parts of the building converted into an anganwadi, skill development centre for wo-men and a memorial showcasing rare photographs of Patel several of which were sourced from Sardar’s family. A good part of the money for the renovation came from the MPLAD fund of union minister for Human Resource Development, Smriti Irani, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Anand.
The trust-run school had closed down in 1965 after a new primary school was constructed in the vicinity. The school since then lay neglected, and had turned into a dumpyard with overgrown weeds covering the building. The school was under the care of Sardar Patel Trust—managed by Patel’s family members—but it could not renovate the building for want of fund and had been approaching the state government for help.
The trust was given responsibility of the school by the Keshubhai Patel government in 1998 and was even granted some funds that apparently fell short of the required amount. Subsequent governments turned down demands for fund. It was only a year ago, after the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi took forward his pet project, the Rs 2,600-crore Statue of Unity at Kevadia Colony in Narmada district, in earnest, that the school was again brought to the notice of the state government. The government asked the trust to hand it over to the Karamsad municipality for further development. “Until a year ago, virtually nobody was interested in renovating the building. There was a shortage of funds and the government was also not interested. When the trust handed over the school to the municipality a year ago, we took up the matter on a priority basis, with the aim of reviving it by October 31, Patel’s birth anniversary,” said president of Karamsad nagarpalika, Nilesh Patel.
The renovation began around six months back and Rs 95 lakh was spent on it, with the state government offering Rs 25 lakh while a large chunk of Rs 40 lakh coming from the local area development (MPLAD) grant of HRD minister Smriti Irani. The rest was contributed by the industrial units situated at the nearby GIDC. The new building with tiled roof replicates the design of the school that Patel attended between 1882 and 1888. Its model is based on an old photograph that the Karamsad nagarpalika sourced from Patel’s family. Apart from chambers converted into the photo museum, the building also has two rooms that have been earmarked for a library.