Gandhi@150: Mahatma and my city

A monumental fight over Gandhi Hill in Vijayawada

Several factors over the years have contributed to the neglect of Gandhi Hill in Vijayawada.

Several factors over the years have contributed to the neglect of Gandhi Hill in Vijayawada.   | Photo Credit: V_RAJU.

Gandhi Hill Foundation, Gandhi Smarak Nidhi in a tussle over development of the place

Even as the country celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Wednesday, Gandhi Hill, a neglected monument of the Father of the Nation in the city stands in splendid isolation, craving for attention. Several factors over the years have contributed to the neglect of this significant spot, located at a stone’s throw from the Vijayawada Railway Station on the Tarapet side.

The historical hill is caught in a muted tussle over its upkeep between members of the Gandhi Hill Foundation and a newly-formed Andhra Pradesh Gandhi Smarak Nidhi.

The hill and a few other properties in the State belong to the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Delhi, which has State units for their upkeep. In the undivided Andhra Pradesh, the Hyderabad-based AP Smarak Nidhi, constituted a Gandhi Hill Society at the local level for upkeep of the hill since it was not possible for it to supervise the day-do-day affairs from there. After a few years, the society was converted into a trust and named as the Gandhi Hill Foundation, which did not take up developmental activity on the hill for a long time citing paucity of funds as the reason. The Central Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, meanwhile, divided the State unit by constituting a separate body for AP with the former MP, late Chennupati Vidya, as its working president and a team of other office-bearers. “In the normal course, the Gandhi Hill Foundation, which was part of the Smarak Nidhi, should have merged with the parent body, the AP Smarak Nidhi, but it doesn’t seem to be a smooth affair,” said KPC Gandhi, Chairman of the AP Smarak Nidhi.

The Gandhi Hill Foundation is helmed by former BJP MP Gokaraju Gangaraju, who struck a discordant note with the Central Smarak Nidhi, refusing to pave the way for a smooth merger of the Foundation with the AP unit of the Smarak Nidhi.

Sale of property

Members of the State Smarak Nidhi attribute the differences to the sale of a property located on the Vijayawada outskirts, with the consent of all the parties — the Central Smarak Nidhi, the State body (in united AP) and the Gandhi Foundation with an understanding that the proceeds of ₹3 crore accrued would be given to the foundation for development of the hill. But this did not happen and ever since, an angry Gangaraju maintained a distance from the Central Smarak Nidhi.

The constitution of AP Smarak Nidhi has further upset Mr. Gangaraju who claims that he has paid funds from his pocket for developing the place and yet he is being sidelined.

During his visit to the city three years ago, Ramchander Rahi, general secretary of the Central Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, expressed concern over the row between two Gandhian bodies and was hopeful that a dialogue would solve the issue.

Three years on, the ice is yet to break. “Being Gandhians, we want an amicable solution. We are keen on initiating development works worth ₹50 crore to groom the place into a tourist spot of international standards,” said Mr. Gandhi, adding that to accelerate negotiations, they were trying to get an emissary.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 11:42:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/a-monumental-fight-over-gandhi-hill-in-vijayawada/article29568995.ece

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