India’s busy spring-cleaning ahead of US president Donald Trump’s two-day visit next week.
The official machinery is working round-the-clock to fix everything from water to security. The foreign ministry, the police and security forces, and the government of the western Indian state of Gujarat, where Trump kickstarts his Feb. 24-25 visit, are only a few of the agencies working in tandem.
The Gujarat government alone is expected to spend Rs85 crore ($11.82 million) on arrangements for only a few hours that Trump will spend in Ahmedabad. One of the items the government has splurged may even be a favourite Trump theme.
Trump will begin his visit with a roadshow from Ahmedabad airport to the Sardar Patel Stadium, during which around 100,000 people are expected to line up to greet him—though Trump himself believes there would be around 7 million of them.
The Gujarat government has even erected a 7-feet-tall wall along some 500 metres of this route. The official reason cited for this is security, Reuters reported, though the contractor who built it has said the government “did not want the slum to be seen.”
An estimated 800 families—mostly poor—live behind this wall. Some 45 others in the area have also been sent eviction notices.
In the same vein, it was earlier reported that local paan shops (betel vendors) were shut down, but the local administration in Ahmedabad denied any such move.
While in Ahmedabad, Trump will attend an event called Namaste Trump, mirroring the Indian prime minister’s Howdy, Modi! in Texas last September. Elaborate arrangements are being made for this Trump event, including making drinking water available for visitors every step of the way.
Up to 500,000 biodegradable cups are being sourced for this, The Times of India newspaper reported on Feb. 19.
While one state worries about drinking water, another is making sure its river appears clean. Trump is also slated to visit the Taj Mahal, located on the banks of River Yamuna in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The government there has released 500 cusecs of water into the river to improve the river’s “environmental condition,” a euphemism for the filth & foul Yamuna is now known for.
Inevitably, security is the biggest piece of the puzzle during any state visit of such significance.
Seven layers of security are expected to be in place by the time Trump lands in Ahmedabad, according to The Economic Times newspaper. “The US Secret Service will occupy the inner-most layer, followed by the Special Protection Group, National Security Guard, Anti-Terror Squad, Gujarat Police’s commando force, Chetak, and other Gujarat Police personnel themselves. The traffic police will be deployed at the outermost periphery to ensure smooth flow,” the paper reported. An estimated 12,000 personnel will be involved in the process.
On Feb. 24, schools and offices in Ahmedabad may also be shut.