Sabarmati river has been an integral part in the life of Ahmedabad since the time the city was founded in 1411 along the river banks. Besides being an important source of water, it provided a backdrop to cultural and recreational activities. During the dry seasons, the river bed became a place for farming. With time it also offered place for various informal economic activities, and the river banks were used by informal squatter settlements.
Gradually, however, the intensive uses took their toll on the river. Untreated sewage flowed into the river through storm water outfalls and dumping of industrial waste posed a major health and environmental hazard. The river bank settlements were disastrously prone to floods and lacked basic infrastructure facilities. Lacklustre development took shape along the riverfront. Such conditions made the river inaccessible and it became a virtual divide between the two parts of the city. Slowly, the city turned its back towards the river.
There had been a long-standing acknowledgement that the riverfront could be turned into a major urban asset from its undesirable state. Proposals to achieve the same have been made since the 1960s and it was finally in 1998 that this multi-dimensional project was envisioned and undertaken by the city.