Trump Visit: To 'Prevent Littering', 3 Paan Shops Near Ahmedabad Airport Sealed

Despite criticism, municipal authorities have continued efforts to 'sanitise' the city by building a wall to hide a slum from sight and serving eviction notices to 45 families.

New Delhi: In ensuring that the city remains clean and appears sanitised during the US President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit, the Ahmedabad municipal corporation (AMC) has now sealed three paan (betel leaf) shops at the airport circle.

Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania, will visit India on February 24 and 25. The couple will visit New Delhi and Agra, apart from Gujarat’s capital Ahmedabad where, as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the US president will be accorded a grand welcome at the newly-renovated Motera Stadium.

However, his visit has turned into a nightmare for the city’s poor. Only days ago, to clear Trump’s route, 45 families living in a slum cluster were handed eviction notices by the city’s municipal corporation. The corporation has also ordered the construction of a wall to hide the slum from sight. The move is being widely criticised by a large section of civil society.

However, the municipal corporation remains firm in its stance. A report in Times of India quoted an AMC official as saying that the sealing was necessary to prevent paan stains and cigarette litter from falling into Trump’s sight. If the shops were allowed to remain open, it would be difficult to keep the area clean, the official said.

Also Read: Gujarat: Another Brick in Trump’s Wall

All the three shops have already been served notices, which said any violation of the sealing order could result in legal action against the owners.

AMC authorities told India Today that Gujarat may spend anywhere between $11-12 million – almost 1.5% of the annual budget for the state’s home ministry – on preparations for Trump’s visit. While security-related costs will account for half the expense, the other half will be used to make the city look spick and span, including the eviction of slum-dwellers and sealing seemingly unpleasant shops.

The “Namaste Trump” event at Motera, much on the lines of the “Howdy Modi” event in Texas last year, is also going to be a grand event. AMC’s commissioner Vijay Nehra told Reuters that authorities have already spent around $4.2 million on widening roads and improving infrastructure around the stadium.