07 August 2020

Project Focus

Canal Perfect


The Himatnagar Canal-front Development project exemplifies how decaying urban features labeled as ‘barrier to development’ and ‘liability for the city’ could be redeveloped, rejuvenated and transformed into core urban assets.


With rapid growth India’s urban population is projected to grow from 285 million in 2001 to about 473 million in 2021 and 820 million by 2051. (NUTP, MOUD). With such high rate of urbanisation, the smaller cities of India are also experiencing growth pressures. However, unlike the larger cities, these small towns do not have sufficient staff resources and funds to develop public amenities and infrastructure that would maintain and enhance the quality of life. These towns require design solutions that are robust, context sensitive and self-financing. Himatnagar is one such town and the district headquarters of Sabarkantha, located in north Gujarat. The city with a population of about 100,000 has its own history, has a stable economic base, and is well connected with road and rail transport. It is also growing at a rapid pace. Himatnagar is administered by the Himatnagar Nagarpalika, with a stable, progressive and forward thinking leadership. When the Nagarpalika sought to identify projects that could improve urban life with the help of HCP Design Planning & Management, the Hathmati Canal-front Development was identified as the project to be accorded the highest priority.




Himatnagar Canal-front Development project is conceived and designed to be a comprehensive and sustainable urban design solution with an innovative self funding mechanism that makes it economically feasible. Currently under construction, the project aims to transform the neglected, polluted sliver of land along the old irrigation canal running through the middle of the city into an urban center. The project creates a 900m long water body in the center of the city by holding water in the canal during non-irrigation period.


The main canal from the Hathmati River passes through Himatnagar dividing the city. This canal is used for irrigation purposes but for most of the year it has little or no water flowing through it. The canal acts as a divide and the canal front itself is not usable by the public. Furthermore, storm water and sewerage lines open into the canal thereby making it an unpleasant feature within the city.


The canal development project aims to turn the presently unused and decaying Hathmati Canal into an area that can be used as a space for social interactions and to reconnect the two parts of the city. The main challenge of the project is efficient water management, as the site is located in a dry region. Keeping this in mind, the design of the project will use a sustainable approach and try to incorporate various water recycling, ground water recharge and rainwater harvesting techniques. The canal development project will create an urban water front in the middle of the town and will provide public access to the water and spaces of various kinds which will include a landscaped linear park. There will also be shops, informal markets, and outdoor eating facilities, on the canal front on either side. The project also proposes three pedestrian links across the canal that connects into the existing fabric for facilitating pedestrian movement. The water quality will be maintained through a well-designed aerating system which will also function as a water feature in itself. The project aims to be completely self-financing in the long term by generating revenue from the proposed commercial development.



The urban regeneration triggered through this project will not only transform public life in Himatnagar, but could become a template for the scores of other small cities and towns looking to improve the public lives of their citizens.

The important elements of the project include:

  • 800m long water body with 1400m long pedestrian promenades
  • Public garden, plazas, gathering spaces and children play areas
  • Organised spaces for vegetable market
  • Organised spaces for food vendors
  • Pedestrian bridges, road & intersection improvement and public facilities
  • Storm water interceptor and ground water recharge facilities
  • Commercial development with 8000 sq m of retail and office space
  • Housing for economically weaker section 

Various functions and activities embedded in this project include:

  • Commercial development
  • Canal-front park
  • Lower promenade
  • Affordable Housing
  • Food court for street vendors
  • Vegetable market for street vendors
  • Streets and pedestrian network
  • Physical and social infrastructure




Commercial Development

The shops and offices constructed in four commercial blocks will create a new hub in the heart of the city where people can work, shop, eat and stroll. Income from sale and lease of this floor space is expected to generate sufficient revenue to offset majority of the development cost.



The Canal

A 550 m linear park is being developed on the eastern side of the canal. This centrally located park will act as a green lung within the urban area and include circuit for morning walkers, amphitheater, plazas, pavilions and children play areas.



Lower Promenade

The lower level walkway, constructed about 4m below the ground level provides access to water and will create peaceful place that is separated from all the hustle bustle at the upper level



Affordable Housing

Slums are part almost every Indian cities. The front too had some major nodes of canal decaying slums along its edges. Four sites were identified in the vicinity within the city where more than 1200 housing units are being developed to accommodate the economically weaker section families living in slums.



Food Court for Street Vendors

The new food-court will provide organised, well serviced, well-lit spaces to the existing street-food vendors flocking at the intersection. The court is designed to provide 40 designated spaces to the cart vendors on semi-permanent basis, along with organized open seating. This will enhance the experience of having inexpensive street-food in a hygienic and organised manner.



Vegetable Market for Vendors

The chaotic clustering of vegetable hawkers near the canal-front will be reorganised by providing them a series of vending platforms where they can set up and sell their wares on a daily basis.



Street & Pedestrian Network

Over time, the canal had become a barrier between the old and the new part of the town. The project improves the overall connectivity by improving existing streets and intersections along the canal, and adds new connections in form of three new pedestrian bridges across the canal.



Physical and social Infrastructure

The new storm water line constructed through the length of the project intercepts polluted storm water from pouring directly into the canal. The permeable pavers and recharging facilities are designed to recharge ground water.




Currently the project is in final stage and the construction is expected to be completed early next year.



It is not very common for a small city or town like Himatnagar to take up an urban revitalization project of this nature and seek to rejuvenate the core area. The project would not have been possible without the stable, forward thinking leadership of Himatnagar Nagarpalika. The project is conceived and designed to be a comprehensive and sustainable urban design solution with an innovative self funding mechanism that makes it economically feasible for the Nagarpalika. Over its 50 years history, HCPDPM has worked on various design and urban planning projects. The HCP’s design team is especially proud of this project as it received the HUDCO Design Award 2013 for being a very good example of how small cities of India can transform its core areas and give them back to its people leveraging their own assets and resources.


Jignesh Mehta, Urban Designer-Planner and Associate Director, HCP Design Planning and Management Pvt Ltd



  • Name of Project: Himatnagar Canal front Development
  • Location: Himatnagar, Gujarat
  • Client: Himatnagar Nagarpalika
  • Architect: HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd.
  • Design team: Bimal Patel, Jignesh Mehta, Raman Aras, MS Swaminarayan, Pradip Jadav
  • Project Area: Built-up Area: 7,000 sq. m. (Approx.)
  • Site Area:  JOverall development area: 60,000 sq. m. (Approx.)
  • Consultants: Advance Engineering (Structure), Ducon(Structure), Jhaveri (Electrical & Plumbing)
  • Project duration: 2011- ongoing

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