Gujarat High Court has refused plea against Gandhi Ashram Precinct Development Project. The Ashram, set up by Mahatma Gandhi was his and Kasturba’s home for 13 years from 1917 to 1930. Now, despite Gandhians across the State coming together to urge the Government to withdraw the huge infrastructure project–the Ashram will get a facelift at the cost of 1200 crore of Central government’s investment. Gandhians believe that Mahatma was the epitome of simplicity and the government should not desecrate this sacred place and convert it into a theme park. The public interest litigation was moved to remove the resolution of the Gujarat government to revamp Gandhi Ashram. PIL was made by the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Tushar Gandhi.
To this Advocate General Kamal Trivedi said that whatever will be done will be done in alignment with Gandhian philosophy. Initial reservations against a developmental project are bound to happen. “We had similar reservations when Statue of Unity came out, we had similar reservations with Sabarmati Riverfront, similar problems with Kankaria lake…what happens is,…my lords issue notice, notice makes headlines in the newspaper and everything comes to a grinding halt. I would like to put the whole blueprint on record within two week. We do not have any intention, even in the wildest imagination, of creation of an amusement park. Whatever we will do, we will do in accordance with Gandhian philosophy and Gandhian ethos.”
The division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice AJ Shastri, however, refused to entertain the PIL on the basis of the undertaking given by the state to preserve the Gandhian philosophy in the revamped Ashram precinct.
Gandhi Ashram was established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1915 when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi came to India from Africa and made the Sabarmati riverfront his Ashram to fight for India’s independence. It was Gandhiji’s favourite places and a destination he wanted to retire at after India gained independence and all Partition issues were solved amicably. To save Gandhi’s favourite place, Tushar’s petition stated that the redevelopment plan is diametrically opposite to the Gandhian ethos of simplicity and frugality, that the Ashram embodies and that it is contrary to the conscious decision taken by the erstwhile Governments in the State and the Centre to keep all monuments associated with the father of the nation strictly apolitical and completely free of Government control or interference.
Gujarat HC has refused to entertain PIL by Tushar Gandhi that was seeking a stay/quashing of the redevelopment of the Gandhi Ashram Precinct Development project. HC also observes the project will only enhance Ashram’s value and make it a “tourist destination”.
The court recorded Trivedi’s submission that the existing Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati Riverfront, which is an area of 1 acre, would not be disturbed, the improvement of the said Ashram, if decided by the Governing Council.
Advocate Bhushan Oza, representing the petitioner also stated that the redevelopment work will “transgress the existing working of Gandhi Ashram known as Sabarmati Ashram and it would cause imbalance and thereby the aesthetic value as well as the Gandhian principles imparted by Gandhi would recede to background.”