The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) on Monday served eviction notices to 45 families living in a slum near the newly built Motera stadium that is being readied to host US President Donald Trump and Prime minister Narendra Modi on February 24.
The families consisting of around 200 slum-dwellers who are registered construction workers claimed they have been asked to move out of a plot they have been inhabiting for two decades due to the upcoming “Namaste Trump” event. However, AMC officials said the notices had no connection with the event.
“The AMC officials who came to serve the notices asked us to vacate as soon as possible. They told us that the head of the United States is visiting Motera stadium and they wanted us to move out,” said 35-year-old Teja Meda who claimed to have been living at the site for the past 22 years. Meda who originally hails from Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh and works as a construction worker said they were informed beforehand not to go to work today as they were required to remain present to receive the notices.
“All of us are construction workers, registered with Majur Adhikar Manch and on an average we earn Rs 300 daily,” Meda added.
These 45 families who were served notices by AMC’s Estate and Town Development Department are among around 65 families that live at a distance of about 1.5 kilometres from the Motera stadium on the road that connects the stadium with the Visat-Gandhinagar highway.
“Go wherever you want to, is what the officials said when we asked them about our fate. Every family has at least four members or more. Where will we all shift in such a short duration,” said Pankaj Damor (24) who is a resident of Dahod and have been driving vehicles on contract for the AMC.
Mukesh Bambaniya (34) who lives in the roadside settlement and hails from Garbada taluka of Dahod district says, “We came to Ahmedabad looking for a better life. Now that we have been asked to leave, what will happen to our children?” Bambaniya’s has four children, two of whom go to a nearby school run by a trust.
The AMC notices, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, states that the “encroached” land belongs to the AMC and is part of a town planning (TP) scheme. The slum-dwellers have been asked to remove their belongings within seven days. In case of any appeals, the slum-dwellers have been asked to approach the department by Wednesday. The notices served on Monday are dated February 11, 2020, going by which the seven-day period ends on Tuesday.
Kishore Varna, assistant TDO (Motera ward) at the Usmanpura office of AMC, who signed the eviction notices, told The Indian Express, “These slum-dwellers had encroached upon a land under one of the town planning schemes and hence were served notices. It has nothing to do with US President’s event at Motera stadium. There are some elements who are trying to take advantage of the event.” However, Varna confirmed that the slum-dwellings fell on one of the possible routes that visitors might take to the newly built stadium for the “Namaste Trump” event.
When asked why the notices served on Monday were dated Feburary 11, 2020, Varna said, “It is not always possible to serve the notice the same day as it is issued.”
Mina Jadhav, general secretary of Majur Adhikar Manch, a trade union working for unorganised workers in Gujarat, said, “All 45 families who have been served notices today by the AMC are registered as construction workers with us. In most of the cases, both the husband and the wife are registered as workers. There are 66 families in this settlement who are registered with us. Others are yet to be served notices. What surprises us is the speed at which the AMC is working to evict them.” ‘Pride for Gujarat’
Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday said the “Namaste Trump” event, where US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will share a common platform at the Motera stadium next week, was a moment of pride for both Gujarat and the nation. In an official statement, Rupani said visitors from across the country will participate at the event in Motera. He also inspected the ongoing preparations at the newly built stadium and was updated by senior officials of the Gujarat Cricket Association.