Skip to main content

Highly polluted in downstream, Sabarmati riverfront cannot be considered a model: Pune urban rivers dialogue told

By Our Representative
A recent dialogue on urban rivers, held in Pune, has reached the conclusion that the much-hyped Gujarat’s Sabarmati Riverfront Project in Ahmedabad cannot be considered a model for other cities to follow, as a similar project, planned for Vadodara, the state’s cultural capital, has been “dropped” following public outcry.
Participating in the dialogue, a presentation by Neha Sarwate, a planner from Vadodara, revealed that the Sabarmati model was adopted by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation to develop its Vishwamitri river, passing through the city. But as Vadodara citizens “raised a series of issues and started a campaign proposing alternative ways of developing the river”, the city authorities were forced to cancel it.
Organized jointly by the well-known environmental advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) and a high-profile NGO, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), during the dialogue on urban rivers Gujarat’s top expert Bimal Patel, who originally conceptualized the Sabarmati project, admitted that Sabarmati is “not an example of river rejuvenation project.”
Suggesting that in the original plan for the Sabarmati riverfront project did not visualize taking water from Narmada, Patel reportedly told the dialogue that it did not even involve “cleaning the river, but only transferring the sewage downstream and channelizing the river with concrete embankments”, adding, no ecological alternative was considered either.
Bimal Patel
Patel also admitted that Sabarmati river, as of today, “is no more a river with flowing water but a lake with stagnant water, that too sourced from Narmada river.” Agreeing that Ahmedabad has no right over the Narmada water, he said, “The project only happened because it has a mass appeal “many people – lakhs of people, wanted it to happen”.
The sharp admission has come against the backdrop of a Central Water Commission report identifying Vautha, a spot downstream of Sabaramti before the river merges into the sea in the Gulf of Khambhat, as one of the dozen most contamination sites across India requiring "immediate attention to remedy the river waters as far as drinking purpose concern." 
Ironically, the Government of India, over the last four years, has considered Sabarmati riverfront development as a model for other cities to become “smart.” The “model’s” highlights, propagated by the officialdom, include features like concrete walkways and parks along Sabarmati, but there is no word on what happens to the river in the downstream of Ahmedabad.
Meanwhile, well-known water resources expert Shripad Dharmadhikary, one of the participants at the dialogue, has commented, “Attracted by this, many cities in the country – including Pune – have decided to go for riverfront development using this very model, and in fact, are also engaging the very same consultant who designed the Sabarmati project, HCP Design Planning and Management Pvt Ltd.”
Officially envisaged as “a comprehensive development of approximately 11 kilometres of length on both the banks of the Sabarmati to bring about an overall environmental improvement, social upliftment and sustainable development along the riverfront”, Dharmadhikary says, “In reality, what the project has done is to convert these 11 km of the river in the city into a large elongated lake, with a barrage at Vasana holding the water.”
Shripad Dharmadhikary
He adds, “Sabarmati has little water of its own, and what is standing right now in the ‘riverfront’ is the water from river Narmada, emptied into the Sabarmati from the Narmada main canal at the upstream end. This water is from the Sardar Sarovar dam, whose construction despite displacing lakhs of people and destroying the environment had been justified for the need to take waters to the dry farms of Gujarat.”
Amidst news that Narmada waters will not be available for Sabarmati next year onwards, Darmadhikary says, now the project planning to sell some 15-20% of the space along the river to big corporates and star facilities to make the project “self-financed”. He wonders, when, after next year, no Narmada waters will be available for Sabarmati, whether the 11 km stretch would be filled with “with Ahmedabad’s treated sewage.”

Comments

Narasimha Reddy said…
Musi River Front in Hyderabad is being modelled on Sabarmati river front project.
Unknown said…
While the project has been called "River Rejuvenation", the fact that it will eventually end up being a series of stagnant pools of water which will require machines to clean the water artificially is admitted by the project proponents. This calls into question the whole approach to this so-called "River Rejuvenation".

From the Detailed Project Report

Aeration fountains are proposed to maintain the desired DO level in the stagnant water. These fountains are located at 15 locations in the total stretch of 44 km. It is recommended to operate these fountains for a minimum of 15 minutes in an hour. The frequency shall be higher in summer.
Aeration systems induce circulation and add dissolved oxygen throughout the water body, helping to mitigate the damage caused by excessive nutrient loading. Floating fountain aerators will be used as aeration system. Submersed aeration systems release oxygen directly into the water column at precise locations, and work extremely well for circulating large areas of water and increasing oxygen levels in deeper water bodies. Other advantages of providing revolving aerators/ aeration fountains include improving water quality, reducing algae growth, removal of foul odour, enhancing habitat for aquatic organism, reduction of viable mosquito breeding habitat and reducing accumulation of bottom sediment.

TRENDING

August 22 to be observed as Apostasy Day: International coalition of ex-Muslim groups

By Our Representative
In a unique move, an international coalition of ex-Muslim organisations has decided to observe August 22, 2020 as the Apostasy Day. To be observed for “the abandonment or renunciation of religion”, the coalition, calling upon people to join the call, said, the decision to observe the Apostasy Day has been taken because of apostasy is “punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, UAE, and Yemen.”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.