At least 45 families living in a slum near the newly-built Motera stadium in Ahmedabad have been served eviction notices by the municipal corporation ahead of the scheduled visit of US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24.
While officials have denied any connection with the proposed high-profile visit and issuance of notices, residents of the slum have questioned the timing of the move, which came days after the AMC began building a wall allegedly to cover a slum on a route that the US President is likely to take while visiting the city.
"You have encroached upon a plot of land belonging to the AMC (Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation). Evict the plot in another seven days with your household chattels, otherwise, departmental action will be taken to evict the land. If you have to make any representation, you can do so on February 19 at 3 pm," reads the notice.
The slum is located alongside a road connecting Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar, around one-and-a-half kms away from the Motera stadium.
A slum-dweller, Shailesh Bilwa, claimed on Tuesday that officials of the AMC have visited them several times since the last seven days.
"We have been living here since over a decade. We had never been served any eviction notice in the past. Why the notice was served to us now?" questioned Dinesh Adravani, a daily-wage labourer who said he had been asked to vacate his shanty by February 18.
He said slum-dwellers like him had no alternative shelter if they are forced out.
"We are ready to vacate, but we need alternative accommodation, otherwise we will be forced to live on pavements. We live here with our family members comprising women and children. We pray to the government to provide us with an alternative plot where we could live," said another resident Shailesh Bilwa.
He claimed that officials of the AMC have been asking them to vacate the plot since the last seven days. "Some of them even threatened to use force against us," he alleged.
Meanwhile, Deputy Estate Officer (West Zone), AMC, Chaitanya Shah said the eviction notice had nothing to do with the scheduled "Namaste Trump" programme.
"They (slum-dwellers) have been served the eviction notice under the provisions of the Town Planning Act and has nothing to do with Trump's visit. The plot belongs to the AMC. The notice was served as the site survey conducted in January found that the plot had been encroached upon," Shah said.
PM Modi and Trump are scheduled to address over one lakh people at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera on February 24, as part of the "Namaste Trump" event. Trump is scheduled to take part in a roadshow in Ahmedabad and to visit the Sabarmati Ashram on that day.