It’s a revolution in development and urban planning taking all safeguards to environmental issues.
Sabarmati Riverfront is a project now synonymous with the new identity of the city of Ahmedabad and
has reconnected the city with the river Sabarmati and has positively transformed the neglected aspects of the riverfront.
It provides a meaningful waterfront environment along the banks of the Sabarmati River and has been able to redefine and recast a new identity for the trader’s paradise Ahmedabad around the river.
Once a site of urban negligence and environmental degradation, today Sabarmati Riverfront is a much popular ‘Hangout Destination for Amdavadis’ and is hailed for being a destination for several species of birds.
Officials say, the riverfront witnesses more than 120 species of native and migratory birds.
It is also a miracle. Altogether the riverfront provides Ahmedabad with an uninterrupted, pedestrian walkway, nearly 11.5km in length and that too in the heart of the city.
Looking back, the riverfront story goes back to the 1990s. In May 1997, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation launched a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) under Section 149(3) of the Indian Companies Act, 1956. And the rest is history to say the least.
It’s true since eternity, rivers have been the cradles of civilization even giving a unique identity to urban space. Ahmedabad has been blessed with the Sabarmati River, which has served as a lifeline for Gujarat. However, till some years back, the Sabarmati had come under increased strain. It also began to be known as a ‘ground’ for cricket matches and circuses rather than a river.
Since Narendra Modi took over as Chief Minister in 2001, he decided to give immense importance to the re-development of the Sabarmati River front. He saw a dream to make it the most innovative urban planning project in the world.
The construction began in 2005 during the stint of Narendra Modi as the state Chief Minister. Since 2012, the waterfront has been gradually opened to the public as and when facilities are constructed and various facilities are actively under construction. The same year the Riverfront made a mega entry into the tourist map at the global scale when the International Kite Festival was hosted.
The major objectives of the project are environment improvement, social infrastructure and sustainable development, say officials.
They further say the project ‘improves’ the environment by reducing erosion of the banks and flooding of low-lying areas of the city by the walls constructed on the both banks. The new integrated sewage and storm-water system intercepts 38 former sewage and industrial effluent discharge points and routes it to sewage treatment plants south of Vasna Barrage.
Importantly, a total 202.79 hectares (501.1 acres) of land was reclaimed. The reclaimed land is used for public as well as private development. More than 85% of the reclaimed land proposed be used for public infrastructure, recreational parks, sports facilities and gardens while nearly 14% are ear-marked for commercial and residential purposes.
In August 2022, a new chapter was added to make Riverfront more attractive.
A pedestrian-only ‘Atal Bridge’ (foot-over bridge) on the Sabarmati river constructed between Ellis Bridge and Sardar Bridge localities was opened by Prime Minister Modi.
Highlights of Atal Bridge:
– It will allow people to view the riverfront from the middle of the waterbody.
– Cyclists can also use this bridge to cross the river while avoiding traffic.
– The bridge has been built using 2,600 metric tonnes of steel pipes.
– The food-over bridge connects the flower garden on the western-end of the riverfront and the upcoming arts and culture centre on the eastern-end.
– The roof of the bridge is made up of colourful fabric, and the railing has been built with glass and stainless steel.
The significant facilities that have been provided in the riverfront project are: Riverfront Market, Laundry Campus Events Ground and Exhibition Centre. The Laundry Campus provides state-of-the-art facilities for the washing community that has traditionally used the river banks for washing and drying of clothes.
The weekly flea market ‘Ravivari’ held every Sunday has been relocated to Riverfront Market, a site adjacent to its original location where specially designed vending platforms and designated areas for mobile vendors have been created.
To increase the green cover of the city, the SRFD project has taken an initiative to plant one lakh trees. Officials say at present there are around 7000 trees developed and about 45,000 more trees of about 170 different species.
If one has to cite an innovative and successful chapter in the history of urban planning and development in India, one can easily refer to the Sabarmati Riverfront.
All in all, it marks a wonderful blend of innovation and pro-people governance.
There are plans for a Barrage cum Bridge. With this, officials say, areas like Sabarmati, Chandkheda and Motera in Ahmedabad city will get direct connectivity with Hansol and the airport area and thus help decongest traffic in the city.
- In January 2022, Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated a grand wall mural of Mahatma Gandhi made from 2,975 clay kulhads (earthen cups) weighing around 900 kgs at the Sabarmati Riverfront. The mural was commissioned by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and was put together by 75 potters from across the country.
- The first proposal for developing the riverfront was presented in 1961 by the prominent citizens of the city. French architect Bernard Kohn had proposed an ecological valley in the Sabarmati basin stretching from Dharoi Dam to the Gulf of Cambay in the 1960s.
- In 1964, he proposed an Integrated Planning and Development of Sabarmati Riverfront by reclaiming 30 hectares of land. The project was considered feasible in 1966 by the Government of Gujarat.
- In 1976, the Riverfront Development Group proposed an incremental approach for the construction.
- In 1992, the National River Conservation Plan proposed construction of sewers and pumping stations to reduce water pollution.
- Chinese President lXi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan visited Sabarmati riverfront with PM Modi on
September 17, 2014.