Updated: September 8, 2021 7:53:56 am
A day after around 130 eminent personalities of the country issued a public statement opposing the joint plan of central and Gujarat governments to redevelop Sabarmati Ashram precinct under Rs 1200-crore ‘Gandhi Ashram Memorial and Precinct Development Project’, the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT) Thursday issued a statement saying that its trustees “share many of the concerns expressed by several citizens regarding the future of the Sabarmati Ashram”.
The trust also added that the Gandhian “values are fully shared by all the stakeholders, including the authorities” with whom they are in touch.
SAPMT is the trust that takes care of the Hriday Kunj (where Mahatma Gandhi lived between 1917 and 1930) and the adjoining museum designed by Charles Correa in the Ashram. The trustees include Ela Bhatt as chairperson, Kartikeya Sarabhai, Sudarshan Iyengar, Nitin Shukla, Ashok Chatterjee, Amrut Modi and Atul Pandya.
Led by Prakash N Shah, president of Gujarat Sahitya Parishad, a group of around 130 eminent personalities have opposed the project to redevelop Ashram precincts while saying that it will severely compromise simplicity and sanctity of the present day Ashram.
They also stated that the proposed project can be envisioned at best as “Gandhi Theme Park” and at worst “a second assassination”. They have also given a call for collectively opposing any government takeover of Gandhian institutions.
On Thursday late evening, SAPMT issued a statement stating, “Trustees of the SAPMT have noted and share many of the concerns expressed by several citizens regarding the future of the Sabarmati Ashram and its precincts.”
“In this connection it is to be noted that proposals for lifting the quality of this heritage environment have been under consideration for many years. In connection with the most recent proposals just received by the Trustees from the concerned authorities. The Trustees are in touch with the authorities on the components that have been proposed (sic),” the statement reads.
It adds, “The Trustees are committed to ensuring that the ethos and values, which this space has communicated to the world for all these years, is to be protected and enhanced. By this we mean that the Ashram should always remain a message to the world which reminds all of us of Gandhiji’s call for attention to the last person, his ideas of simplicity, economy and frugality in all matters and his respect for nature and for each one of our fellow human beings.(sic)”
The statement concludes with words, “Our understanding is that these values are fully shared by all the stakeholders including the authorities with whom we as Trustees are in touch.”
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