Sunday, April 16, 2017

I met a centenarian, Shri Jamnadas Patel

I met a centenarian, Jamnadas Patel

He was born 7 months before Mrs Indira Gandhi on 16 April 1917. His mother passed away when he was only 6 years old. His father lived for 70 years (1889-1959), his elder brother lived for 91 years (died in 2007) and he is not out at 100, fit fine and healthy. Doctors says he has a healthy heart of 10 years boy. All his senses are working well. His eyes are good. His ears listen all words. His mind remembers micro details without loss of words. His tongue enjoys the tastes. His stomach digest three meals every day. He is a perfect styled man living like a young, wearing colourful clothes with shirt in and belt on, and dying hair regularly. His good firm handshake speaks out his strength of body at this ageં.

When he was 10 years old in 1927, he met Gandhiji and Pandit Nehru in a AICC session held at Mussoorie. He had garlanded Gandhiji with cotton thread (Sutar anti) spun by himself. They made toys from the earth so well that Gandhiji auctioned the pair of sparrows in the prayer meet that has earned ₹250. As one of the participants of the freedom fight, he was jailed in Pune.

Very early in his career, he help plan and execute housing for refugees in Ahmedabad and in Delhi. In 1950, he joined the newly formed Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as a Planner.

In early 1960s when the erstwhile Bombay state was about to be split into two Maharastra and Gujarat there were internal discussions to identify which officers would like to stay in which state. For the officers who were to stay with Gujarat, their accommodation had to be planned and constructed. The duty was assigned to two engineers: Mr. Hiradia from the State department and Mr. Jamnadas Patel from the city of Ahmedabad. Once the state was formed, there was a need to set up the Town Planning and Valuation Department and to identify the personnel for that department. Jamnadas Patel was offered to head the department on ad-hoc appointment. But he declined and insisted that a proper selection process be conducted and if he is found to be a better candidate, he will accept the selection. Finally, He, Jamnadas Patel became the first Chief Town Planner of the Gujarat State.

He had association with Dr Vikram Sarabhai. It was a dream of Dr Vikram Sarabhai to bring space and research Center of the Department of Atomic Energy at Ahmedabad. There was a need of land allotment for the purpose but things were not moving. When he came to know about the problem, Jamnadasbhai took the appointment of the then Chief Minister Shri Balvantrai Mehta and met him at 9.30 PM at his home and explain the cause. Next day on the application and the map received, the CM ordered to the Collector Ahmedabad, "without losing time, after completing all necessary formalities, this land should be handed over to the govt commission without delay". Within 12 days of the order, one half of the Jodhpur Tekra was allotted to the commission, on which the Space and Research Centre was established under the INCOSPAR (Indian National Committee for Space Research, later grew into ISRO).

Sabarmati River Front Project of beautifying Sabaramati river in Ahmedabad by stopping water that can stay for the whole of the year and can promote boating and other entertainment to the visitors, was first dreamed by the French architect Bernard Kohn on the style of the Sein River in Paris in 1960s. He made a 5 feet model of the project. When Jamnadasbhai saw the project outline in IIM, he immediately wrote to the government to make the project report. A committee was formed under the Chair of the Chief Engineer and he as Secretary, collected rainfall data of 60 years, prepared the pre-feasibility of the project and sent it to the All India Hydraulic Institute of Khadakvasala for study, with a condition to raise the height of the Vasana Barrage such that 4 feet water can stay at Subhas Bridge. Thereafter, they designed and constructed the wear in 1976, that later became the base of the present Sabarmati River Front Project. With the push of Shri Surendra Patel, the then the visionary Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Narendra Modi executed the project, that has changed the look, culture and economics of the city of Ahmedabad.

He is surely going to be super centenarian in 2027. Recently he stayed in US for 4 months, unconscious for a moment for first time in life, when checked, found all okay with a heart of a 10 years boy. He has low diabetic but under control with a medicine glycomet, he takes thrice in a day regularly and check the level of sugar every third day himself. No stent, no bypass, all passed but he is not out at 100. Regular walking is the secret of his health.

We wish Shri Jamnadas Patel, the first Chief Town Planner of Gujarat, a long healthy life of setting up of an unbreakable record for the bureaucrats.

Our 100 Salutes to Shri Jamnadas Patel the Centenarian 🙏

16 April 2017


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