After nearly 50 years, the primary school at Karamsad in Anand district where Sardar Patel studied from Class I to Class VI has been restored with parts of the building converted into anganwadi, skill development centre for women and a memorial showcasing rare photographs of Sardar Patel, several of which have been sourced from Sardar’s family. A good part of the money for the renovation has come from the MPLAD fund of union minister for Human Resource Development Smriti Irani who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Anand.
The trust-run school had closed down in 1965 after a new primary school was constructed in the vicinity. The school since then lay neglected, and had turned into a dumpyard with overgrown weeds covering the building. The school was under the care of Sardar Patel Trust—managed by Patel’s family members—but the trust could not renovate the building for want of fund and had been approaching the state government for help.
The trust was given care of the school by the then Keshubhai Patel government in 1998, and was even granted some fund that apparently fell short of the required amount. Subsequent governments could turned down the demand for fund by the trust. It was only a year ago, after the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi took forward his pet project, the Rs 2,600-crore Statue of Unity at Kevadia Colony in Narmada district, in earnest, that the school was again brought to the notice of the state government who asked the trust to hand it over to the Karamsad municipality for further development.
“Until a year ago, virtually nobody was interested in renovating the building which was in a very bad shape. There was shortage of fund for the project and the government was also not much interested. When the trust handed over the school to the municipality a year ago that we took up the matter on a priority basis, with the aim of reviving it by October 31, Patel’s birth anniversary,” said president of Karamsad nagarpalika, Nilesh Patel.
The renovation began around six months back and Rs 95 lakh was spent on it, with the state government offering Rs 25 lakh while a large chunk of Rs 40 lakh coming from the local area development (MPLAD) grant of HRD minister Smriti Irani. Remaining Rs 30 lakh was contributed by the industrial units situated at the nearby GIDC.
The new building with tiled roof replicates the design of the school that Patel attended between 1882 and 1888, its model based on an old photograph that the Karamsad nagarpalika sourced from Patel’s family. Apart from chambers converted into museum displaying around sixty photographs of Patel depicting him as a 17-year-old college going youth and a dapper young man pursuing law at a college in the UK, as well as his different moods during his involvements in India’s freedom struggle, the building also has a two rooms that have been earmarked for a library being developed for senior citizens.
Inaugurating the school on the occasion of Patel’s 139th birth anniversary on Friday, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel said Patel will inspire children attending the anganwadi within the school. “It is a moment of pride for me to attend the school where Sardar Patel once studied and took primary education. This is a great opportunity for us all to inculcate Sardar’s values in our life. We are thankful to PM Narendra Modi for declaring the day as National Unity Day,” Anandiben wrote in the visitor’s book.
Further, while addressing the public, Patel recalled Sardar’s contribution in uniting India and asked the audience to take inspiration from his “exemplary life dedicated to nation building.” Criticising Congress government’s effort to forget Patel’s birth anniversary, Anandiben praised PM Narendra Modi for bringing to the fore the “greatness of Sardar Saheb” after taking over as country’s Prime Minister.
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