Sunday, November 19, 2017

Table of Contents for Project Focus





PROJECT FOCUS

Revitalising the heart of a city

 

Ahmedabad was founded on the banks of river Sabarmati in 1411 A.D. Since then the city has grown around the river. The river has always been an integral part of the rich history of Ahmedabad. While the kings built pleasure gardens, summer palaces, and mosques along the river; the people utilised it for trade, meetings and various religious rituals. Daily activities like bathing, washing clothes, and drying were also carried out on the river edge. Sabarmati is a monsoon fed river, hence when it ran dry, the bed was used for farming.

 

But by the end of the 20th century, the river had become polluted and inaccessible.  It was abused and neglected. Domestic and industrial effluents polluted the river and slums encroached both the banks.  These slums had no tenure or municipal services and were flood prone. Private properties abutted the entire length of the river and since slums had blocked all access points to the river, it was not possible to walk along its length. Property owners along the banks, who could afford it, had built retaining walls to protect their properties from flood erosion.  On account of this, the river did not play a significant role in the life of the masses; the city had turned its back on the river. Untreated sewage flowed into the river from storm water drains, and the sewage from slum pockets, on both banks of the river added to the pollution.  This was all the more threatening because Ahmedabad continued to depend on wells dug into the river for a significant portion of its drinking water.  In spite of a dam upstream river, and a barrage downstream of the river, it had become difficult to manage floods and to retain water in the river.


 

GENESIS OF PROJECT

 

The Sabarmati river is very important to Ahmedabad’s urban ecology and it has been for long acknowledged that appropriate development of the riverfront can turn it into a major asset thus improving the quality of the environment and life in the city. The riverfront development has long remained a subject of interest to various city architects with its inception in 1961 by French architect Bernard Kohn. In May 1997, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) established the Sabarmati River Front Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) under Section 149(3) of the Companies Act 1956. AMC commissioned the Environmental Planning Collaborative (EPC) to prepare a comprehensive feasibility study to develop a 9 km stretch of the city's riverfront. EPC provided development management services to SRFDCL until 2002. During this period its mandate was to direct and monitor all the preparatory work. Since then HCP Design Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd. (HCPDPM) has been responsible for the project’s urban master plan and architectural design.

 

PROJECT FOCUS AND CONTOURS

 

The Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project is an environmental improvement, social upliftment and urban rejuvenation project. The project aspires to effectively manage the river as a critical infrastructure; hence it is structured to provide benefits to every strata of the society.  Its political objective is to provide a highly visible
and robust urban renewal project around which the entire city can constructively rally. This multidimensional project aims to reclaim the river edge as a public asset, improve its spatial structure and habitat conditions and restore the city’s relationship with the river. It will create a thriving, people-centric network of parks, waterside promenades, markets and cultural and recreational facilities in the heart of Ahmedabad. 

 

RECLAIMING LAND, BUILDING FLOOD PROTECTION WALLS, LAYING SEWAGE INTERCEPTORS

 

The project has reclaimed approximately 200 hectares of land from the riverbed.  To reclaim the land, protect low lying developments from floods, and to prevent erosion of the river banks, retaining walls have been built on both sides of the river. Since Sabarmati is a seasonal river, water is channeled into the river from Narmada canal, which intersects the river upstream from Ahmedabad and is retained in the river using the Vasna Barrage which is located downstream. To prevent untreated sewage from flowing into the river, two sewage interceptor lines with new pumping stations are constructed parallel to both the reclaimed banks. These lines carry untreated sewage to the augmented sewage treatment plants south of Vasna Barrage. Slum dwellers living on the riverbed, and affected by the project, are in the process of being relocated and provided with ‘pucca’ housing with secured tenure.

 

IMPROVING ACCESS TO THE RIVER

 

The reclaimed land will make Ahmedabad’s riverfront a public asset.  To better access the riverfront and facilities built along it; a number of streets leading up to the river are being strengthened and some new streets are being developed. Most of the proposed streets are under construction. The new streets are designed with wide foot paths and designated cycle tracks to improve and encourage pedestrian access to the river. 

 

BUILDING PUBLIC PROMENADES GARDENS AND PLAY FIELDS

 

The project has provided Ahmedabad with 11.5 km long pedestrian promenade at the water’s edge along each bank of the river.  Ghats punctuate the lower promenade at planned intervals, to provide access to the water. Stretches of these lower promenades are now open to the public.  For the first time it is possible for the people of Ahmedabad to stroll along the length of the river.  In addition to the promenade many new parks and gardens will be built on the reclaimed land, some of which are under construction.  All of the parks will be developed to enhance livability in the area that they are located in.  These parks and gardens will provide the city with much needed green space and a respite from the sweltering summers.

 

BUILDING PUBLIC FACILITIES, FINANCING THE PROJECT

 

Many new public facilities are being built on the reclaimed land: cultural centres, museums, sports facilities, trade fair grounds and open air markets.  All of them will add to Ahmedabad’s many attractions, and help place the city on the global tourist map. They will also help to renew the center of the city.  A small portion of the reclaimed land will be sold for commercial developments.  This development will be carefully controlled by regulations that will ensure that Ahmedabad has a harmonious and memorable skyline.

 

CREATING PRECINCTS WITH UNIQUE CHARACTER BY DEVELOPING DESIGN GUIDELINES

 

In addition, 18 precincts along the length of the project will be developed. All regulations prepared by HCPDPM in consultation with SRFDCL pertaining to ground coverage, margins, height of building, use of building etc. will regulate the development in the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Area. These regulations prepared for the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Area will prevail over the General Development Control Regulations.

 

CONCLUSION

The Sabarmati riverfront development project is a unique urban project, being built in the heart of an existing city, stitching together the east bank and west bank. The project has brought the river back to the city and the people back to the river.  The simple joy of being able to walk along the river bank, to sit in a garden and enjoy the serene beauty of the river is now a reality. The project is currently ongoing, but several parts of are being used by the public and the reclaimed space is home to several events such as the kite festival. Over the years the project has become a part of the public realm
and gradually transforming into the new center of Ahmedabad, creating a new identity for it.




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