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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Gandhi Ashram Memorial Project: Process begins to clear residential properties, 19 families get cheques

Over the past two days, Ahmedabad district Collector Sandip Sagale disbursed cheques worth Rs 40 lakh each to 19 families living on the premises who have consented to vacate the properties in lieu of the fixed settlement amount.

Written by Parimal A Dabhi | Ahmedabad |
Updated: June 30, 2021 5:28:28 am
The collector’s order said the coordination committee will coordinate with the executive council whenever necessary for the rehabilitation of people living on the Ashram premises.

Gujarat state authorities have started the process of clearing residential properties within the Sabarmati Ashram premises to develop a world class memorial as part of a project planned under Project Gandhi Ashram Memorial and Precinct Development.

Over the past two days, Ahmedabad district Collector Sandip Sagale disbursed cheques worth Rs 40 lakh each to 19 families living on the premises who have consented to vacate the properties in lieu of the fixed settlement amount. The final settlement amount has been fixed at Rs 60 lakh and the remaining amount of Rs 20 lakh will be paid to them at the time of vacating the property within a month.

Sagale, a member secretary of Governing Council and Executive Council for the implementation of the project, said that 11 families were given the cheques on Monday and eight families on Tuesday.

The plan for the project, estimated to cost Rs 1,200 crore, and proposes to consolidate the properties on both sides of the Ashram road, which is west Ahmedabad’s arterial road, and eventually close it as a thoroughfare, has been prepared by consultants HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Ltd.

The plan involves reversing the five-acre area of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT)-run Sabarmati Ashram to the 18-19 hectare area as was seen in an aerial photo taken in 1949 which is the base of the plan, “to bring back the lost glory”. The ashram precinct measures around 322 acres (130 Ha) of which, 55 acres (22.3 ha) is proposed to be reserved for the Gandhi Ashram Memorial, which includes the SAPMT.

For the implementation of the project, the Gujarat government has formed a Governing Council and Executive Council. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is the chairman of the Governing Council. Chief Principal Secretary to the CM, K Kailashnathan, who chairs the executive council, was present at the cheque distribution on Tuesday.

A senior government functionary associated with the project said that one of the major challenges is to get the residential properties vacated. Most of these properties are in the possession of descendants of those whom Mahatma Gandhi had settled in the Ashram in the early 1900s.
Initially, when the project was announced, some of the Ashramites registered their protest against forceful eviction and threatened to launch an agitation. However, sources said, the government is trying to implement the project in an amicable manner without getting into confrontation with anyone, especially “Ashramites”.

The government functionary said, “The people living in Ashram properties are being offered a one-time settlement amount of Rs 60 lakh. Those who are ready to take the amount and vacate the property are being given the cheques now. Those who do not want the monetary compensation, will be provided an alternate rehabilitation. If they are not ready for that, too, the government will think of other options. The government does not want to do anything forcefully.”

Kailashnathan, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Narhari Amin who is also part of the governing council, and Bimal Patel, who heads HCP, made presentations before the residents on three alternatives.

Sources said that the authorities have identified around 250-260 residents living within the Ashram, of which 19 have opted for the one-time settlement of Rs 60 lakh to vacate the property.

One of the 19 persons who took the cheque, who did not want to be identified, told The Indian Express, “Our forefathers were settled here by Gandhiji to look after the cattle inside the Ashram. We know ours is a prime location and we are not going to get a similar location elsewhere. But we are vacating the property willingly and happily since it is for the development of something related to Gandhi Bapu. We also know that when the government wants to take the property, they will take it eventually (anyhow).”

Gujarat state authorities have started the process of clearing residential properties within the Sabarmati Ashram premises to develop a world class memorial as part of a project planned under Project Gandhi Ashram Memorial and Precinct Development.

Over the past two days, Ahmedabad district Collector Sandip Sagale disbursed cheques worth Rs 40 lakh each to 19 families living on the premises who have consented to vacate the properties in lieu of the fixed settlement amount. The final settlement amount has been fixed at Rs 60 lakh and the remaining amount of Rs 20 lakh will be paid to them at the time of vacating the property within a month.

Sagale, a member secretary of Governing Council and Executive Council for the implementation of the project, said that 11 families were given the cheques on Monday and eight families on Tuesday.

The plan for the project, estimated to cost Rs 1,200 crore, and proposes to consolidate the properties on both sides of the Ashram road, which is west Ahmedabad’s arterial road, and eventually close it as a thoroughfare, has been prepared by consultants HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Ltd.

The plan involves reversing the five-acre area of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT)-run Sabarmati Ashram to the 18-19 hectare area as was seen in an aerial photo taken in 1949 which is the base of the plan, “to bring back the lost glory”. The ashram precinct measures around 322 acres (130 Ha) of which, 55 acres (22.3 ha) is proposed to be reserved for the Gandhi Ashram Memorial, which includes the SAPMT.

For the implementation of the project, the Gujarat government has formed a Governing Council and Executive Council. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is the chairman of the Governing Council. Chief Principal Secretary to the CM, K Kailashnathan, who chairs the executive council, was present at the cheque distribution on Tuesday.

A senior government functionary associated with the project said that one of the major challenges is to get the residential properties vacated. Most of these properties are in the possession of descendants of those whom Mahatma Gandhi had settled in the Ashram in the early 1900s.
Initially, when the project was announced, some of the Ashramites registered their protest against forceful eviction and threatened to launch an agitation. However, sources said, the government is trying to implement the project in an amicable manner without getting into confrontation with anyone, especially “Ashramites”.

The government functionary said, “The people living in Ashram properties are being offered a one-time settlement amount of Rs 60 lakh. Those who are ready to take the amount and vacate the property are being given the cheques now. Those who do not want the monetary compensation, will be provided an alternate rehabilitation. If they are not ready for that, too, the government will think of other options. The government does not want to do anything forcefully.”

Kailashnathan, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Narhari Amin who is also part of the governing council, and Bimal Patel, who heads HCP, made presentations before the residents on three alternatives.

Sources said that the authorities have identified around 250-260 residents living within the Ashram, of which 19 have opted for the one-time settlement of Rs 60 lakh to vacate the property.

One of the 19 persons who took the cheque, who did not want to be identified, told The Indian Express, “Our forefathers were settled here by Gandhiji to look after the cattle inside the Ashram. We know ours is a prime location and we are not going to get a similar location elsewhere. But we are vacating the property willingly and happily since it is for the development of something related to Gandhi Bapu. We also know that when the government wants to take the property, they will take it eventually (anyhow).”

“We have opted for one-time monetary settlement instead of opting for an alternate rehabilitation because we are the only ones from our caste in the current locality (dominated by a particular caste). We have lived in harmony all these years. We want to buy a new house in Ghatlodia or Chandlodia area (in Ahmedabad city) to live with relatives and others from our community,” she added.

Another woman, who was among the 19, said, “My father-in-law was brought to the Ashram by Gandhiji. He and later my husband were working at Navjivan Press established by Gandhiji. I took the money as my son (working in a private firm) told me to do so.”

A community leader from the Ashram area who did not opt for the monetary settlement said, “There are many people in our locality who live in small houses and have debt running into lakhs. They opted for monetary compensation to pay off their debts and buy a small house in the city.”

“Many of us are willing to vacate the property for an alternate rehabilitation as the properties we live in are owned by trusts associated with the Ashram. Though we have been living here for over three generations, we need permission of the Ashram trust to get any repair work done in the house as we don’t have ownership rights. So it is better to have alternate rehabilitation with ownership rights and develop Bapu’s Ashram into a world class memorial,” he added.

“We have opted for one-time monetary settlement instead of opting for an alternate rehabilitation because we are the only ones from our caste in the current locality (dominated by a particular caste). We have lived in harmony all these years. We want to buy a new house in Ghatlodia or Chandlodia area (in Ahmedabad city) to live with relatives and others from our community,” she added.

Another woman, who was among the 19, said, “My father-in-law was brought to the Ashram by Gandhiji. He and later my husband were working at Navjivan Press established by Gandhiji. I took the money as my son (working in a private firm) told me to do so.”

A community leader from the Ashram area who did not opt for the monetary settlement said, “There are many people in our locality who live in small houses and have debt running into lakhs. They opted for monetary compensation to pay off their debts and buy a small house in the city.”
“Many of us are willing to vacate the property for an alternate rehabilitation as the properties we live in are owned by trusts associated with the Ashram. Though we have been living here for over three generations, we need permission of the Ashram trust to get any repair work done in the house as we don’t have ownership rights. So it is better to have alternate rehabilitation with ownership rights and develop Bapu’s Ashram into a world class memorial,” he added.

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