To hide slums from Trump, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation constructs wall

Ahmedabad: Keen to have the city looking picture perfect when US President Donald Trump arrives in the city later this month, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is building a wall to hide a slum along the road connecting Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to Indira Bridge. However, city mayor Bijal Patel says she knows nothing about this.

“I have not seen it. I do not know anything about it,” Patel told the press on Thursday morning.

The wall, 600m long and 6-7 feet (approx. 2m) high, will keep more than 500 shanties in the city’s Saraniya Vas area out of public view.

The mayor’s remarks come a day after she and Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra undertook a reconnaissance mission along the route which the VVIP convoy is expected to take. The mayor and other office-bearers also visited Motera Stadium on Thursday morning.

By building a wall to hide slums, the civic body is moving away from its usual custom of placing huge white curtains to hide the slums. It did so in 2008, when then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Ahmedabad, and also when Prime Ministers of Japan and Israel visited in 2017 and 2018, respectively. It deviated from the norm when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited in 2014: slum pockets in Vastrapur were hidden by tarpaulin and cloth.

Leader of opposition in AMC Dinesh Sharma called the exercise “wasteful expenditure”.

He said: “I call this the civic body’s wall of shame. Are they feeling bad for having poor and slum people in the city? The slums are in the middle of the city because the AMC has not implemented the slum rehabilitation policy. Instead of building a wall just for a few days, the civic officials must invest in infrastructure for tax-paying citizens,” said Sharma. In addition, the civic body will place tall trees and paint the wall red or brown. It also finally resurfaced 18 roads at an investment of Rs22 crore.