Drinking water eludes Juhapura even six years after it was brought under the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, but India’s largest Muslim ghetto in the suburbs of the Gujarat capital is about to get its first corporation school.
The announcement was made on February 17 in the 2013-14 corporation budget. The building of the primary school is to come up in Sankalitnagar and it will be functional within a year, said AMC school board chairman Jagdish Bhavsar.
Locals contend it is a case of too little too late. That this is chief minister Narendra Modi’s olive branch to the community before the next year’s general elections remains the sub-text.
“Education for children is one of the main concerns in Juhapura,” said Asif Khan Pathan, who runs a private school in the area. At present, Juhapura has four government-run schools. But that’s a drop in the ocean. More than 60% of its 400,000 residents cannot afford to send their children to private schools, he added.
Former professor of IIT Delhi VK Tripathi, who is fighting for educational facilities in Juhapura, said only 18% of its children can study beyond Class VII. Not just more schools, they need free text books and scholarships.
Founded in 1973 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to settle flood-hit families, Juhapura used to be a tiny suburb. But with communal riots regularly erupting since 1985, a large number of Muslims settled there.
Today, Juhapura continues to be one of the more neglected pockets of glitzy Ahmedabad. A city within a city, it practically has no civic amenities.
The AMC officials hold out some hope. “The civic body plans to develop drainage, roads and a health center,” said a senior official. But with three more years to go before the municipal elections, a long wait is on the cards.