Activists and writers oppose Sabarmati ashram makeover plan
More than 140 eminent personalities have signed a petition opposing the redevelopment project of the Sabarmati ashram founded by Mahatma Gandhi in Ahmedabad. The statement said the plan “seriously compromises and trivializes the sanctity and importance of the current ashram, primarily Hriday Kunj, the surrounding buildings and the museum.”
Signatories include notorious historians Ramachandra Guha, Rajmohan Gandhi, Vinay Lal, writer and cultural activist Ganesh Devy, Prakash Shah, writer and editor of Nireekshak, writer Nayantara Sahgal, retired judge AP Shah, artist and poet Gulammohammed Sheikh , social activists Sandeep Pandey, Martin Macwan, journalists P Sainath, Kumar Ketkkar, filmmakers Anand Patwardhan, Kavitha Lankesh, musician TM Krishna, former IAS officers Arun Roy, Harsh Mander, theater activist Dakxin Bajrange. Several other former bureaucrats, diplomats and defense personnel signed the petition.
The statement says that due to the proposed plan worth Rs 1,200 crore, the “simplicity of the ashram will be completely lost … Hriday Kunj (where Gandhi lived), other historic buildings and Current museums, even if they remain intact, will no longer be the central places. They will be relegated to their entrenchments by the new museum, the amphitheater, food courts, shops, etc. The signatories also expressed that “l easy access to Hriday Kunj and the current museum will be blocked as the road through it will be closed. The new entrance will have at least a VIP lounge and a new museum ahead of Hriday Kunj and the current museum. “
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He says, “The place never needed a ‘world class’ makeover to attract tourists. Gandhi’s charisma along with the authenticity and simplicity of the place were enough. The plan was enough. proposed envisages at best a “Gandhi theme park” and at worst “a second assassination” … In short, if the project is successful, the most authentic monument of Gandhi and our struggle for freedom will be forever lost to vanity and marketing. “
DH recently reported that Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT), which manages the ashram, has given approval for the project on the condition that the government does not consider the Ashram a “world-class tourism designation”. The trustees called on the government to build facilities with “sincerity, keeping in mind the simplicity of the place”. The trust’s response came on a letter sent by the state government asking it to pass a resolution in favor of the proposed plan and turn over all income records to the local collector.
The redevelopment design was planned by city architect Bimal Patel, who is also the prime contractor for the Central Vista project in Delhi.
The contents of the statement are based on several reports regarding the project which say that the project is supervised by the central government and the state. The statement reads “This is in line with the current government’s strategy to appropriate and commercialize all Gandhian institutions in the country. The worst example of this can be seen in Sevagram, but the most frightening aspect is the government’s control over all the Gandhian archives. As Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by elements whose ideology still inspires some in power in India, this danger cannot be ignored. “
“We must collectively oppose any government takeover of Gandhian institutions, while ensuring that the government continues to use public money for the proper upkeep and maintenance of these institutions, in consultation with d ’eminent Gandhians, historians and archivists from India and around the world, ”the statement read.