Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar Gandhi has filed public interest litigation (PIL) in the Gujarat High Court challenging the state government's Sabarmati Ashram redevelopment project.
The PIL, filed recently, is likely to come up for hearing post-Diwali vacation.
The government proposes to redevelop the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, a place closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi and India's freedom struggle, as a world-class tourist attraction spread over 54 acres of land by bringing together 48 existing heritage properties located nearby.
On Wednesday, Tushar Gandhi, the son of Arun Gandhi, whose father Mani Lal was the Mahatma's third son, said in the PIL he has challenged the government's Rs 1,200-crore Gandhi Ashram Memorial and Precinct Development Project because it goes against the wishes and philosophy of the Father of the Nation.
He said the Gujarat government has been made a respondent in the PIL along with all the six trusts that take care of various activities of the Sabarmati Ashram as well as the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi -- a charitable trust formed to further activities associated with Mahatma Gandhi -- and also the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and others associated with the project.
"We have raised questions before these trusts as to why they are not fulfilling their responsibility?" said Tushar Gandhi, a writer and social worker.
The state should not be allowed to interfere as the constitution of Gandhi Smarak Nidhi says Bapu's Ashram and memorials should be kept away from government and political influences, he said.
When the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi was formed, not a single penny was taken from the government during its initial years. Later, amendments were made to allow for funds from the government to take care of Gandhi monuments, but the role of the state was limited to be that of a funding agency with no right to carry out anything on its own, Tushar Gandhi said.
"This is the first time that the government has asked the trusts to step back and let it do all the work. The government has even formed its own trust for the same. We believe the trust formed by the government will become whole and sole for Sabarmati, and other trusts will be made redundant," he said.
He said the petition also raises the issue of spending an amount of Rs 1,200 crore as not being justified in the present circumstances.
The project envisages developing the Ashram the way it existed during the time of Mahatma Gandhi when it was spread over 35 to 40 acres with 63 heritage properties, 48 of which are still standing.
The sprawling premises, also called the Gandhi Ashram, served as Mahatma Gandhi's residence for several years from where he carried out major political and social activities during the independence movement.