March 6, 2021 1:16:34 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to launch the celebrations of the 75 years of Independence – Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav – on March 12 by flagging off a ‘Dandi March’ from the Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati, top sources in the Gujarat government told The Indian Express. Modi is also visiting Gujarat on Saturday to address the valedictory function of the Combined Commanders’ Conference that began Friday at the Tent city near the Statue of Unity in Kevadia, when he is also expected to take an update the Central government commissioned Rs 1200 crore Sabarmati Ashram redevelopment project.
Modi is scheduled to arrive in Ahmedabad on March 12 to flag off 21-day march from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Navsari district to mark the anniversary of historic Salt March which will also mark the launch of the celebrations of 75th year of Independence.
Another government official connected with the matter said, “The PM is expected on March 12 at the function near Sabarmati Ashram. The Dandi March is going to be flagged off from the Ashram with 81 marchers. The marchers will take the same route which was taken by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930. Some prominent personalities are also going to participate in the march, but the list of those personalities will be finalised in some days.” On March 12, Modi is expected to preside over an event held on the ground near Abhay Ghat which is the samadhi of former prime minister Morarji Desai, next to the Sabarmati Ashram, sources told this paper. The organisers, primarily the ministry of culture, has sought database of all the original marchers and the current co-ordinates of their families to help plan the march, said sources.
For the celebration of 75th year of independence, a statement from Ministry of Culture released by Press Information Bureau stated, the Central Government has constituted a National Committee under the chairmanship of Prime Minister with 259 members.
“The National Committee includes dignitaries and eminent citizens from all walks of life. The Committee will provide policy direction and guidelines for formulation of programs for the commemoration of 75th anniversary of Indian Independence, at the national and international levels…The celebrations are proposed to be launched 75 weeks prior to 15th August 2022 i.e. on 12 March, 2021, which is the 91st anniversary of the historic Salt Satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi. In order to discuss modalities relating to preparatory activities under the commemoration beginning from 12th March 2021, with the members of High Level Committee, it has been decided to convene the first meeting of the Committee on 8th March 2021,” the statement added.
“PM Modi is scheduled to arrive on March 12 to attend a programme at Sabarmati Ashram where he will also flag off Dandi March. The exact details of the March 12 programme are being fixed by the Central Government and will be final shortly. An official announcement will be done then,” a top government official said.
The March 12 programme is likely to be a big-scale event especially when the central and Gujarat government are planning to consolidate around 63 buildings related to Mahatma Gandhi around the Sabarmati Ashram and turning them into a “world class memorial”, work for which has begun.
The redevelopment of the Gandhi Ashram commonly known as the Sabarmati Ashram, a brainchild of the Prime Minister, plans to consolidate 55 acres of land in and around the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT) , which houses the Hriday Kunj.
The Ashram premises will eventually have only three owners as per the plan — the Gujarat government, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the SAPMT — instead of the six trusts that are currently aligned with it.
On Saturday Modi will join the conference with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Kevadia on Friday on a two day visit to attend the Conference, landing at Vadodara airport on Friday afternoon and taking a chopper to Kevadia.
The district administration of Narmada district has created four additional helipads to help travel of the top dignitaries of the defence forces. The Chiefs of the forces as well as the dignitaries had arrived in Kevadia on Thursday evening, a day in advance and are put up at the tent city. Singh will also be staying over at night in one of the luxury suites in the tent city.
On Friday, following his arrival in Kevadia, Singh first visited the Statue of Unity along with Chief of the Army Staff General MM Naravane, Navy Chief Admiral Kadambir Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and IAF Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. Singh tweeted about his experience of visiting the SoU and added that the conference will see discussions and review of “India’s security situation and defence preparedness”.
A defence official told this newspaper that the conference is likely to discuss in detail the combined future operations and strategy of India’s defence forces in the context of the conflict with China, which has been on for close to ten months. “The conference is attended by close to 60 top officials of the three forces. Compared to the previous years, this year the conference is more interactive. It couldn’t be held last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Kevadia has turned into a restricted zone in view of the conference. The district police has also issued prohibitory orders for flying drones over the area during the ongoing conference.
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