REBUTTING the allegations made by the Opposition of spending over Rs 100 crore on US President Donald Trump’s visit to Ahmedabad, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in his address to the Assembly Friday said only Rs 8 crore was sanctioned by the state government out of which Rs 4.5 crore was spent by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) on roads.
“I am very surprised that they (Congress) are talking about Rs 100 crore spent on US President Donald Trump’s visit. I do not know where they got this number from. From the state government only Rs 8 crore was sanctioned, out of which Rs 4.5 crore was spent on roads by the AMC,” Rupani said.
The Chief Minister’s remarks came in his concluding address to the discussion on Governor Acharya Devvrat’s address which was held in the first part of the session conducted last month.
Rupani said that history was created where for the first time a US President came directly to Ahmedabad from Washington.
“There was a time when world leaders would know Delhi and Mumbai. But due to Gujarat’s son and our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, country heads of Israel, China, Japan and now US have visited Gujarat. International media like Washington Post wrote that the stadium with a capacity of over 1.10 lakh was full as people had gathered in the peak afternoon only to listen to Modi and Trump,” Rupani said in his address.
Incidentally, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) had said, as was also reported in the media, that 20 roads covering a length of nearly 30 km around the Motera stadium were re-carpeted at an estimated cost of Rs 27 crore. As a new gate (Gate number 4) is added to the existing three gates to the stadium, AMC is undertaking construction of a new 300-metre road. Another new stretch with a similar length is being constructed from Megibachar rasta towards Gate number 3.
Earlier in the House, Congress President Amit Chavda raised questions on the money and resources put to use for the three-hour visit of Trump stating that the state government is turning a blind eye towards issues of education, malnutrition and many other issues plaguing the residents of the state.
“When America’s President visits Ahmedabad, roads are constructed overnight. So are cleanliness, lights and white wash works. Permissions for expenditure are granted overnight, while the government resolutions and orders are changed and more than Rs 100 crore are spent. On the other hand, the state government does not react to same issues of roads, light and education faced by Gujarat’s residents,” Chavda said in his address to the House.
Criticising the state government’s “lackadaisical attitude and apathy” towards malnourished children, Chavda said, “Whether Trump, Abe or Xi Ping visits Gujarat, the state government opens its coffers by spending Rs 100 on a three-hour event, but what steps has the government taken to control child malnutrition in Banaskantha district? In response to this question, the state government gave a written reply that 50 gram laddoos have been given to them. This reflects the government’s mentality and priority.”
“If the same concern and care exhibited for Trump and Xi Ping’s visits is showered on the common man of Gujarat, there is no stopping for the state to develop and Gujarat model to become a success,” Chavda said while concluding his address.
Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani too questioned the state government’s move of spending extravagantly on Trump’s visit and erecting a wall to “mask the poor behind it”.
“If Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was here among us today, the poor and labourers living in slums would not have been hidden behind a wall. Lakhs were made to stand during Trump’s visit but I would say that today we are standing on our feet because of these labourers, and if we hide them, the coming generation will not forgive us. Our Constitution gives everyone the right to live a life with dignity.”
“While Rs 180-190 crore are spent on CM’s aircraft, the state government fails to spend on acquiring automated cleaning machines for manholes where even today many are losing their lives. If instead of distributing trishul or swords, copies of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution were distributed, incidents of Delhi and Khambhat could have been avoided,” he added.
In his over 48-minute address to the House, Rupani lauded various state government schemes in the sectors of agriculture, education, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) industries, sustainable development, zero tolerance against corruption, technological upgradation of anti-corruption bureau, strict legislations like GUJTOC and for cow protection, extensive CCTV network in cities and towns and 1,800 km long gas grid in the state among others.