The project aims to reconnect the city of Ahmedabad with River Sabarmati by providing an accessible and inclusive waterfront environment along the river banks and to redefine an identity for Ahmedabad around the Sabarmati River.
The entire process is called reclaiming land. Reclaiming initially involves a process of taking the sand from the riverbed by the dredging method. Boats equipped with foot valves and other machineries churn up sand onto the riverbed, filling the embankments. The last stage, compacting the sand is done by rolling the filled earth. Testing the compaction is carried out at every 200 mm of the filling.
Three rounds of hydrological studies have been completed by two different independent agencies. The purpose of the studies was to determine the effect the proposed embankments would have on the carrying capacity of the river. All studies confirmed that the selected design of the embankments will be capable of handling the annual river floods. Embankments along the banks of the river will ensure that the flood-carrying capacity of the river improves. These have been built by smoothening out the banks and by building walls along the riverbank. The concrete walls will stop erosion of the banks and protect property as well as structures along the banks.
The River Promenade at the upper level has been built tall enough so as not to be affected by 100 year floods, but in such a circumstance, the lower level of the River Promenade has the potential to be affected. For this reason, infrastructure planned and implemented for the lower promenade includes basic and minimal infrastructure such as railings along the riverbank edge, a paved walkway, benches and trees. In the rare conditions that the lower level promenade is flooded, it will be closed to the public.
Efforts at riverfront development are not new to the Sabarmati River. Way back in the 1960s, one of the first formal proposal was made by a French Architect Bernard Kohn. In 1976, the River Front Development Group Project was undertaken by a group of local professional firms. Thus, there has been a long-standing acknowledgment that the riverfront can be turned into a major urban asset from its once undesirable state. The following are the major events leading up to the project:
- 1961 – Bernard Kohn, French architect residing in Ahmedabad created Proposal for Integrated Planning & Development of Sabarmati Riverfront calling for reclamation of 30 hectares of land
- 1966 – Kohn’s proposal is claimed technically feasible by Government of Gujarat after technically studies completed
- 1976 – Riverfront Development Group Proposal proposed an incremental approach to reduce the need for initial capital outlaw. To view proposal, click here.
- 1992 – National River Conservation Plan proposed construction of sewers and pumping stations in the periphery of the city as well as upgrading the existing sewage treatment plants
- 1997 – Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) created the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) to solely focus on the project
- 1997 – Environmental Planning Collaborative (EPC) prepared the feasibility report for the project
To stop the pollution of the river from untreated sewage and industrial effluents, an integrated storm water and sewage system with interceptor sewers has been implemented. Interceptor lines, twelve kilometers in length each, have been installed along both banks of the river capturing 38 sewage discharge points and divert the sewage with new pumping stations in the reclaimed banks. These lines carry untreated sewage to the recently augmented sewage treatment plants south of Vasna Barrage at Vasna and Pirana, on the western and eastern banks of the river respectively.
For improving people’s access to the river, a continuous, uninterrupted promenade has been created at two levels along both banks of the river. Ghats at strategic locations punctuate the lower level promenade and provide direct access to the water. From the city level, access points including elevators connect to the lower level promenade. More details about the River Promenade can be viewed here.
For improving the transportation network of the city and providing access to the riverfront facilities and new development, there are two 4-lane wide roads that have been created. On the eastern part of the city, the East River Drive starts from Subhash Bridge and will be connected to the 200 ft. wide road. The West River Drive, on the western part, starts from Dadhichi-Rushi Bridge at Vadaj to Nehru Bridge where it merges with Ashram Road. It recontinues from Ellis Bridge and connects to the 120 ft. road. The roads on either banks include underpass connections. The SRFD streets create a major north-south road link on the Eastern bank and supports the strong north-south connection offered by Ashram Road along the Western bank. The project’s street network can be viewed here.
No, the water is almost continuously discharged for irrigation into the Fatehwadi irrigation canal. It is periodically recharged from the Narmada Canal. In the long term, as a more sustainable solution, it is being planned to replenish the river with treated water from the sewage treatment plants.
Additionally, there are a variety of choices that will reduce the breeding of mosquitoes such as aeration and breeding of appropriate fishes.
A portion of the reclaimed land will be sold for development. To ensure that the riverfront’s built environment is harmonious and cohesive, development in this zone will be controlled by strict urban design guidelines. These shall include volumetric guidelines and regulations which shall be generated before work on any project commences. More details regarding the development sites can be viewed here.
Actually, all of Ahmedabad is built under the seismic zone – III. All buildings built within Ahmedabad, including the riverfront buildings, must take appropriate measures to be protected from earthquakes.
Special attention is being paid to sites with important historical and institutional value to ensure that they become integrated into the development.
The Sabarmati Riverfront project comprehensively addresses every aspect that surrounds the development of the riverfront. Hydrology, reclamation, environmental improvement, rehabilitation and relocation as well as creating new development along an 11km stretch are the aspects that make this project unique. The sheer scale of this project makes it a one of a kind project within India.