Skip to main content

Vadodara river development projects to further "aggravate" waterlogging, flooding

Counterview Desk
In a letter to Gujarat government officials, including state chief secretary, and senior officials responsible for urban development and environment and forests, a group of concerned citizens* led by senior environmentalist Rohit Prajapati have sought urgent action to prevent anticipated disasters, flooding, and water logging due to deliberate negligence regarding the reclamation of ravines in Gujarat's cultural capital Vadodara.
Stating that the officials concerned are legally liable "to compensate if any damage is done to environment and the affected communities", the signatories of the letter says, the Vadodara authorities are going ahead with “development” plans which "will further augment the already existing waterlogging and flooding woes in various parts of the city."

Excerpts from the letter:

We, and some project affected local citizens from all walks of life, in Vadodara have raised the issues, with the concerned authorities, related to prevention anticipated disasters, flooding and water logging due to deliberate negligence, superficial show of work undertaken, and lip services paid regarding the cleaning up and technically and ecologically sound reclamation of ravines filled with construction debris and all kinds of solid waste and water detention areas under the pretext of ‘low lying areas’ or heavy rains.
Even though we have alerted, in writing and otherwise, the concerned authorities about these issues from time to time, they have fallen on deaf ears or have been ignored nonchalantly. At best, the concerned authorities give sympathetic hearing, but eventually do hardly anything worthwhile to address the real issues and their causes.
Top-down development decisions and designs, which are not thought through or rely on the latest science or techniques, are imposed on the citizens without even giving proper information, let alone without authentic and proactive participation. Sursagar Redevelopment and Jan Mahal are prime examples of these.
There has been no proper or official reply on our queries about where the construction debris of big buildings demolished recently have gone. Some examples of these include, the old Pathik Bhawan for Jan Mahal, the Maharani Shantadevi Hospital, and cinemas like Rajashree and Natraj.
The Vadodara Smart City website lists 64 projects (with estimated cost of 2906 crore). An overwhelming 42 of these projects are infrastructure development related projects that will create significant issues of debris.
In spite of recent site visit on April 24, 2019 by the committee headed by ex-chief justice of Delhi High Court BC Patel, Gujarat Pollution Control Board officials, and repeated requests from our side, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, instead of removing the dumped debris, is still allowing dumping of fresh debris, discharge of untreated sewage, filling, levelling, construction, etc. activities along/ in/ around the Vishwamitri River and its environs (banks, ravines, tributaries, ponds, wetlands, etc.). This is being done by other private and public entities, including the Maharaja Sayajirao University.
In addition to the existing transgressions and issues of grave consequences, we also want to draw attention of all the concerned authorities some old (pending and overlooked) and newly emerging, crucial issues related to rapid “development” works that need serious and urgent attention from you.
These ravines and wetlands are being systematically destroyed and filled with debris and municipal solid waste in order to reclaim land for further “development”. This will further augment the already existing waterlogging and flooding woes in various parts of the city.
The identified and documented locations, where debris and waste dumping is still going on, in addition to the ones already identified in our previous letters, are as follows:
  • The new westward road from the southwest of Motnath “Lake”/Pond to the new bridge over the Vishwamitri River has severely disturbed the storm water channel (‘kaans’) that facilitates the overflow of water from Motnath “Lake”/Pond to the Vishwamitri River. 
  • The south-west riverbank off the new bridge mentioned above. 
  • The ravines on which the Agora Mall is built and areas adjacent to it, off Mangal Pandey Road.
  • The ravines between the Sama ‘gaamtal’ and the Vishwamitri River. 
  • The ravines on both sides of the Bhimnath Bridge and between the Bhimnath Bridge and the Old Jail Road. 
  • The ravines between the Akota ‘gaamtal’, the Western Railway tracks and the Vishwamitri River. 
  • Dumping of debris along various roads and vacant plots across the city.
  • The ravines and wetlands are nature’s water management mechanisms, which act like shock absorbers, natural sponges, by detaining the inundation of waters in the river during monsoon. 
The above-mentioned activities are altering the morphology of the river system by either narrowing the section of the river, straightening of the meanders, modifying the natural topography along the banks, clearing of vegetation, and increasing impervious surfaces.
These actions are modifying the soil structure its interactions with water and other bio-geo-chemical processes along the riparian zones and exacerbating the threat of disasters such as floods and water logging. Poor people always pay the heaviest price of such criminal negligence by the concerned authorities.
Since our last letter dated January 30, 2019 to the Municipal Commissioner and others, this practice is still continuing and getting worse with apparently no repercussions to the concerned authorities and parties. This is happening despite the prevailing laws of the land, directions of concerned authorities, and courts’ orders.
Furthermore, these works and activities are in complete violation under the provisions of the following environmental statutes:
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 
  • The Environment (Protection) Act 1986 
  • The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010 
  • The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 
  • The Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016
We demand:
  • Implement immediately, in letter and spirit, ‘the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016’ and ‘the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016’. We have been raising the questions in this regard and we need reliable and verifiable answers now. 
  • Stop immediately all activities like debris and waste dumping, discharge of untreated sewage, filling, levelling, construction, etc. activities along/ in / around the Vishwamitri River and its environs (banks, ravines, tributaries, ponds, wetlands, etc.). The Municipal Commissioner of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation must immediately take sound and well-advised corrective measures by giving appropriate and specific directions, emphasizing eco-engineering techniques and not allowing shoddy band-aid job, by Wednesday, June 5, 2019. Failing to do so will invite legal actions and/or penalties against all concerned authorities, departments, and parties.
  • Compensate all damage to individual and collective society, who will be affected by the induced and impending disasters. This compensation must be done by or levied from the concerned officials of the respective authorities. 
  • Ensure devising and implementation of a sound Action Plans for proper and well-monitored remediation, restoration, and future waste management. We insist a complete re-look and re-design of all the on-going and not-so-well thought out demolition activities, clean-up drives, and so-called development projects. All the projects should be comprehensively integrated with overall Development and/or Master Plans and must not be imposed as isolated interventions handled by different departments and agencies. 
To achieve all this, we demand that a quasi-governmental authority with real teeth is formed and empowered to fulfill this agenda in a proactive, transparent, and accountable manner. It is high time that the local, state, and Central governments take up this matter with urgency and work towards its positive resolution without excuses, passing on the buck, or failure of any kind.
---
*Signatories: Rohit Prajapati, Environment Activist, Researcher, and Writer; Neha Sarwate, Environmental and Urban Planner; Dr Ranjitsinh Devkar, zoologist; Dr Shishir R Raval, landscape architect and ecological planner; Dr Deepa Gavali, wetland ecologist; Dr Jitendra Gavali, botanist; Shakti Bhatt, water resources expert; Dr Arjun Singh Mehta, biotechnologist; Dr Jayendra Lakhmapurkar, hydrogeologist; Hitarth Pandya, educationist and writer; Rutvik Tank, civil engineer and urban planner; Dhara Patel, landscape architect and architect; Taniya Vaidya, artist and educator; Sadanand Ambadkar, consultant

Comments

TRENDING

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

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.

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

Nalanda mahavihara 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".

Top ex-Gujarat babu tells Modi: Not yoga but solar system is our biggest source of energy

By Rajiv Shah  An email alert to Counterview from a top ex-IAS bureaucrat, termed as Gujarat’s turnaround man for revamping loss-making state public sector undertakings (PSUs), has sought to take a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark on the Yoga day – that the ancient Indian exercise provides an “infinite solutions” within ourselves, offering “the biggest source of energy in the universe.”

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.

Covid fear? Cremation rituals gone upside down, Dalits asked to do Brahminical rituals

By Abhay Jain, Sandeep Pandey*  As Covid consumes human life in a very conspicuous way we are confronted with additional problem of disposing of human corpses. Cremation grounds are lit with continuous pyres, graveyards are running out of land and now Ganga has become a mass grave potentially polluting its water.