The Maharashtra government has decided to go beyond the mandate given to states by the Centre — to organise various events to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi — by developing a one-of-its-kind ‘Gandhi Smruti Nilay’, a memorial to showcase the life and political journey of the Father of Nation and promote his principles among current generations.
The Centre had earlier directed all state governments to take up initiatives that highlight the ideals, philosophy and life of Mahatma Gandhi. Accordingly, the erstwhile BJP-led state government had approved Rs 150 crore in 2018 for implementing various programmes to mark the occasion. It had also come up with a Rs 266-crore development plan for refurbishing Sevagram Ashram in Wardha district.
Now, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is planning to develop a state-of-the-art memorial for Gandhi in the city to highlight the various facets of the Mahatma’s life.
“There was a plan to build something permanent to showcase the journey of Mahatma Gandhi and the timing could not be better, as we are marking his 150th birth anniversary,” said Neelima Kerketta, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Maharashtra State Khadi and Village Industries Board (MSKVIB).
The memorial is likely to be set up on a 5-acre vacant land in Pune, which the MSKVIB owns. “The concept behind the memorial is unique. It will be a state-of-the-art tourist destination for those who want to understand the life of Mahatma Gandhi and his values. The important events in India’s freedom struggle will be showcased through paintings and murals. It will depict incidents such as the eviction of Mahatma Gandhi from a train in South Africa and all the satyagrahas conducted under his leadership.”
The entire premises will be designed and developed keeping in mind the principles followed by the Mahatma. The project will include an auditorium, food court and other installations. The site will also have a museum and an exhibition centre with 3D presentations. “The vacant land adjoins the Mula river, so a statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be put up on the riverside. There will be a special meditation centre for local residents…,” said Kerketta.
Deputy Chief Minister and state Finance Minister Ajit Pawar, who is also the guardian minister for Pune, has supported the initiative and assured budgetary provisions for the project, estimated to cost up to Rs 50 crore and expected to be completed within a year.
“No one has put forward such a concept… to present the entire life of Mahatma Gandhi at one site. The location identified for the Gandhi Smruti Nilay is suitable for such a project. It is inside the city, alongside the old Mumbai-Pune highway, and the bus stand of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has been recently shifted to the adjoining plot. The site will receive maximum footfall as it will be easily accessible to commuters from across the state,” said Bipin Jagtap, deputy CEO of MSKVIB.
The samadhi of Mahatma’s wife Kasturba Gandhi, who died in Pune, is located at Aga Khan Palace, where the couple was imprisoned during the freedom struggle.
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