A wall is being built along a slum area to serve as a shield to the sight of slum to U.S. President Donald Trump when he visits the city of Ahmedabad in India.
However, officials on Thursday said the wall would serve as part of beautification along the route that Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be taking during the visit.
A senior government said the wall was being built for security reasons, not to conceal the slum district.
But the contractor building it told Reuters that the government did not want the slum to be seen when Trump passes by on the ride in from Ahmedabad’s airport.
“I’ve been ordered to build a wall as soon as possible, over 150 masons are working round-the-clock to finish the project,’’ the contractor said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The government official conceded that the wall was part of a “beautification and cleanliness’’ drive.
Whatever the reason, the 400-meter-long and seven-feet-high wall will prevent the U.S. leader from getting a glimpse of a slum district that houses an estimated 800 families.
Trump, who has made a pledge to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico a feature of his presidency, will visit India on Feb. 24-25 to reaffirm strategic ties that have been buffeted by trade disputes.
He is expected to attend an event dubbed “Kem Chho Trump’’ (How are you, Trump) at a stadium in Ahmedabad along the lines of the “Howdy Modi’’ extravaganza he hosted for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston in September 2019.
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Trump quoted Modi as saying “millions and millions of people’’ would attend the rally.
The event provides Trump, who was impeached in December by the House of Representatives but was acquitted by the Senate in February, with the opportunity to woo the support of thousands of Indian-American voters ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.
But some slum dwellers whose homes will be cordoned off by the wall in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Modi’s home state of Gujarat said the government was wasting tax-payer money to hide the poor.
Parvatbhai Mafabhai, a day worker who has lived in the slums with his family for more than three decades said “poverty and slums are the reality of our life, but Modi’s government wants to hide the poor.’’