On the fringes of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) limits sits Valmiki Sadan, a residential colony for at least 300 families, where the municipal body is hard at work. They have a deadline to meet — October 2. That is when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the area and inaugurate a modern toilet block.
The activity in the area is frenetic. On Friday, a road divider, which had remained decrepit for years, is being quickly cemented and painted. The grass in the main park is being trimmed. Taking no chances with Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan — his national sanitation programme — even the streetlight poles are being given a scrub.
“This is only the beginning. By the time the PM visits this area, it will look completely different. Everybody in the colony is upbeat about the visit and are contributing in their own way,” RWA pradhan Virendra Rajput, who is overseeing all the government arrangements, said.
This is not be the first time that Valmiki Sadan will host a PM. “Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited this place earlier. However, Modi will be the first PM to visit us on October 2,” Sant Krishna Sah Vidhyarthi of the Valmiki Sadan said.
The temple is adjacent to the room where Mahatma Gandhi stayed for 214 days over a year. Tucked away in the heart of Delhi, Gandhi spent his days teaching children of the Valmiki community. After inaugurating the toilet — built on DRDO technology — the PM will also visit the Mahatma’s room.
“We have been told that the PM will even sweep the road leading to Valmiki Sadan to set an example,” Sukharam, a resident, said.
The under-construction toilet is being supervised by GBS Pvt Ltd. Monitoring its progress is the company’s managing director. Sitting on a chair by the road, Mukesh Sakhuja, the MD, said, “The DRDO technology that we are using will recycle water without using huge septic tanks and sewage system. It will be disabled-friendly.”
On enquiring about the history of the room, the head priest points to photographs displayed on the walls in clockwise order — Gandhi meeting with Sir Stafford Cripps of the Cripps Mission, Lord and Lady Mountbatten.
“Former PMs V P Singh, P V Narasimha Rao, and several other leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, have visited the room,” he said.
However, the visit to Valmiki Sadan is not the only event on October 2.
The Urban Development ministry has planned a range of activities in the capital, including a four-kilometre marathon and a kite-flying competition at India Gate.
Senior BJP leaders believe that the nation might see the PM participating in the marathon.
“We have been told that PM would like to start the marathon by participating in it,” a leader said.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Secretary D M Spolia has asked all Delhi government bureaucrats to prepare a calender of activities that their departments will organise in October as it will be the first time that government offices will remain open on this day.
A direction has also been sent to DUSIB to launch a cleanliness drive in areas falling in its jurisdiction.