The front view of the Gandhi Ashram at Pallepadu near Nellore
Nellore: Pinakini Satyagraha Ashram, popularly known as Pallepadu Gandhi Ashram is facing funds paucity to meet monthly expenditure and efforts to develop the Ashram as popular tourism spot is only on papers. Even though, the state government had planned to develop the Ashram a couple of years ago but there was no progress in it.
The Ashram is located on the banks of river Pennar at a distance of 6 miles from Nellore city located in Indukurpet mandal. Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had inaugurated the Ashram on April 7, 1921 in a thatched shed. The Ashram spread over 20 acres out of which around 4.5 acres of land has gradually become part of Penna River.
After the inauguration, Mahatma Gandhi visited Ashram again in 1929 and stayed there and started Harijanoddharana movement from the local Harijanawada and later he extended it to other parts of the country as part of freedom struggle. The Ashram was a centre for Mahatma’s ambitions and also aimed at promoting values among people and to educate them on the great philosophies and teachings of Gandhi.
But, the management of the Ashram was subsequently handed over to the Indian Red Cross Society and had been maintaining the Ashram as the trustees handed over it further to the Governor in 2005. Though it sounds odd, majority students of the district are not aware of Gandhi Ashram in Pallepadu.
“Though the Ashram has significance and linked to the freedom movement in the country there were no concrete efforts to develop it as tourism spot till now. There is a need to focus on the Ashram,” said Dr Panabaka Lakshmi, former Union Minister. District Education department has to arrange a day visit to the Ashram from all government schools for creating awareness about the significance of Gandhi Ashram among students, she added.
Now, local students are being told about truth, non-violence, believing god, and other life styles of Gandhi on every Saturday and Sundays in the Ashram. Tailoring classes were also being conducted to local girls in the premises. About 15 batches have still been completed. “It is unfortunate that the Ashram have to rely on donations from local charity for its monthly maintenance. It requires at least Rs 20,000 on an average to meet electricity and other expenses every month,” said a committee member of the Ashram.
He opined that there is a need to generate revenue by introducing special programmes in the Ashram which would support activities and maintenance. Some lands belong to the Ashram were being cultivated by the local farmers, who pay a meagre amount in the form of ‘sistu’. Recently, the district administration had completed construction of two new buildings in the Ashram with Rs 92 lakh.