Officials in Ahmedabad, the city to host a welcoming event for US President Donald Trump when he arrives in India, has brushed off reports that a wall, hastily erected along the road from the airport, is to obscure slums.
With New Delhi preparing to roll out a welcoming mat for Trump and his wife Melania when they touch down in India on February 24, reports have emerged that some local authorities have taken pains to ensure that the US delegation is treated to a picture perfect view as they hit the road in Ahmedabad, the largest city and former capital of the Indian state of Gujarat.
Local media reported that a wall standing as high as six feet lines the road leading from the airport to Indira Bridge. The structure, which is set to be about half a kilometer long, is built around the historic Saraniyavaas slum area, home to some 2,500 people.
Some suggested that the wall, once constructed, will tower over the disenfranchised neighborhood, essentially preventing anyone from catching a glimpse at what is going on behind the fence.
The fact that the construction effort appeared to be timed with the impending Trump visit has prompted accusations that officials were attempting to cover up a grim reality. However, head of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, municipal commissioner Vijay Nehra, dismissed the speculation, saying that while the wall was indeed commissioned, it was a replacement for an old ramshackle structure that failed the test of time.
The wall is “only being rebuilt in place of an existing one that was broken,” Nehra told The Indian Express. He went on to note that while the wall’s height was listed at six feet in the project design, that was done by mistake. The blunder was only noticed after the media hyped up the issue, he said.
We are clear that the wall’s height will be four feet… we instructed that the height should be kept at four feet so that the view is not obstructed from the road to the slum.
The main idea behind the project was to make sure that the “old dilapidated structure” would not cause any “safety issues,” he added.
Those parts of the wall that had been already built at 6 ft would be modified, according to Nehra. “Some six-feet-high columns have already been built, which will be cut down to four feet.”
Located in the prime minister’s home state of Gujarat, Ahmedabad is set to become the center of Trump-related festivities in India. Indian PM Narendra Modi and Trump are expected to unveil the world’s largest cricket stadium – Motera Cricket Stadium – which will become the venue for a large-scale “Kem Chho Trump” (“How are you, Trump”) event, modelled after a massive ‘Howdy, Modi!’ rally held in Houston, Texas. The September extravaganza attracted thousands of Indian Americans and was attended by Trump himself.
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