In a setback to the growing number of opponents to the proposed revamp of the historic Sabarmati Ashram, the Gujarat High Court on Thursday rejected a public interest litigation filed by Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, against the project.
A division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice AJ Shastri took cognizance of the submission by State Advocate-General Kamal Trivedi that the government intended to preserve Gandhian ethos in the revamped Ashram.
Trivedi contended, “The existing Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati Riverfront, which is an area of 1 acre, would not be disturbed, or in other words it would be maintained as it is and all efforts would be made even for the improvement of the said Ashram, if decided by the Governing Council.” He added the area in the rest of the 55 acres would be redeveloped and improved.
The bench recorded his statements and decided that there was no need for the court’s interference given that the Gujarat Government had stated it would not alter anything in the 1 acre of the Ashram where Gandhi and Kasturba stayed.
Tushar Gandhi’s PIL filed in October was yet to be admitted. He had sought a stay and quashing of the entire project, which is proposed to cover 55 acres of land.
The Rs 1,200 crore redevelopment project has been designed by architect Bimal Patel-led HCP Design, Planning and Management Private Limited, which has also conceived the Central Vista Project in New Delhi.
Reacting to the high court’s decision, Tushar Gandhi told this correspondent, , “I am disappointed, but will fight it out. Once I receive and study a copy of the order, I will take a call on the next course of action.”
However, he asserted, “The Sabarmati Ashram is not just the one acre of land where Bapu stayed with Kasturba Gandhi since 1917. Gandhiji created it on as many as 120 acres of land as an entire philosophy of simplicity and frugality.”
“With pomp and glamour, the rest of the area (except the one acre) would virtually nudge the Hriday Kunj (where Gandhi stayed) to an insignificant corner,” he added. “Gandhiji’s very idea would be destroyed,” Tushar Gandhi lamented.
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