Nearly two years ago, with much fanfare, Donald Trump was driven through the streets of Ahmedabad. With Narendra Modi by his side, he attended a rally dubbed “Namaste Trump” on February 4, 2020.
Days later, there was a flurry of media reports on how the administration had a wall to hide a slum on the route taken by Trump to the rally.
The wall still stands, and thousands of people still live behind it. In a settlement at Sarania Vas near Indira bridge, residents told Newslaundry that the area is underdeveloped, forcing them to live in squalor.
Many of the residents – about 700 families – are originally from Chittorgarh in Rajasthan and settled here in the 1940s. There are about 7,000 people living here now, with large families often sharing a single room. Daya Bhai, for instance, said he was born here. Now 60 years old, he shares a one-room house with his wife and widowed daughter.
The drinking water is mixed with sewage. Yet residents are forced to use it for bathing and other purposes. “I haven’t bathed for four days,” an elderly woman said. “The water smells so bad, how can I take a bath?”
There are two toilets outside the colony. Each can accommodate 10 women and 10 men at a time, which is scarcely enough for the 7,000-odd people who live here. There is a long queue every morning, and residents told Newslaundry that a majority of them are forced to defecate outside.
Residents depend on chulhas, traditional mud stoves, to cook since most of them cannot afford cooking gas. They use wood as fuel. One woman told Newslaundry, “My life is spent fetching wood from the forest. Modi sahab, give us gas.”
This report was in Newslaundry Hindi.