|Location||Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India|
|Opening||Gradually since August 2012|
|Architect||Bimal Patel-led HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd|
|Developer||Sabarmati River Front Development Corporation Limited|
|Cost||₹1,400 crore (US$200 million) (November 2019)|
|Size||Phase-1: 202.79 hectares (501.1 acres)|
Sabarmati Riverfront is a waterfront being developed along the banks of Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad, India. Proposed in the 1960s, the construction began in 2005. Since 2012, the waterfront is gradually opened to public as and when facilities are constructed and various facilities are actively under construction. The major objectives of project are environment improvement, social infrastructure and sustainable development.
The Sabarmati river is a monsoon-fed river which has a total catchment area of 21,674 square kilometres (8,368 sq mi). The Dharoi Dam constructed in 1976 upstream of Ahmedabad controls water and protects from flooding while Vasna Barrage constructed in 1976 downstream retains water in the river along the city banks and diverts it through Fatehwadi canal for irrigation. The Narmada Canal, which crosses Sabarmati a few kilometres upstream from the city, is part of a larger canal network of Sardar Sarovar Dam. The canal can feed excess water to the river and maintains the level of water in the river which is retained through Vasna Barrage.
The first proposal for developing the riverfront was presented in 1961 by the prominent citizens of the city. French architect Bernard Kohn proposed an ecological valley in Sabarmati basin stretched from Dharoi Dam to Gulf of Cambay in the 1960s. In 1964, he proposed an Integrated Planning and Development of Sabarmati Riverfront by reclaiming 30 hectares (74 acres) of land. The project was considered feasible in 1966 by the Government of Gujarat. Later he distanced himself from the project citing the difference between his proposal and the project being implemented. 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.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) set up the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (SRFDCL), a special purpose vehicle, in May 1997 funded by the Government of India with a seed capital of ₹1 crore (US$140,000) for the riverfront development. Environmental Planning Collaborative (EPC) led by Bimal Patel prepared the feasibility report in 1998. Initially the proposal was to construct the riverfront to cover a stretch of 10.4 kilometres (6.5 mi) stretch from Subhash bridge to Vasna barrage and to reclaim 162 hectares (400 acres) of the riverbed. In 2003, the project extended to cover an 11.25 kilometres (6.99 mi) stretch and reclamation of 202.79 hectares (501.1 acres) and was put on fast track. The project estimated to cost ₹1,200 crore (US$170 million) which was to be recovered by selling of a part of reclaimed land for commercial and residential purpose. Bimal Patel-led HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd, Ahmedabad was roped in as the main architect of the project. The project encountered several delays due to concerns regarding water level, flooding, rehabilitation of displaced slum dwellers and the opposition from the activists involved with slum rehabilitation.
The construction began in 2005. The heavy engineering, land reclamation and sewage system was completed at the cost of ₹900 crore (US$130 million). The 11.5 kilometres (7.1 mi) long lower promenades on both banks are completed and some of its section were opened to the public on 15 August 2012. It was inaugurated by then state Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The waterfront is gradually opened to public as and when facilities are finished. Various facilities are actively under construction since then. Total ₹1,152 crore (US$160 million) were spent on the project by 2014. By November 2019, the ₹1,400 crore (US$200 million) were spent.
The average width of the river channel was 382 metres (1,253 ft) and the narrowest cross-section 330 metres (1,080 ft). It is uniformly narrowed to 263 metres (863 ft) without affecting its flood carrying capacity and the riverbed land is reclaimed on the both east and west banks to construct 11.25 kilometres (6.99 mi) long riverfront. It can hold 470,000 cu ft/s (13,000 m3/s) without spillage. The total of 202.79 hectares (501.1 acres) of land is 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% proposed be used for commercial and residential purpose.
It improves 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 route it to sewage treatment plants south of Vasna Barrage.
The roads along the both banks are constructed for the easy movement of traffic along north-south direction. They are constructed with footpaths, parking bays, carriage ways and cycle tracks. The roads leading to river are strengthened for better movement and access. The West River Drive decongestants the Ashram Road and has 25 metres (82 ft) RoW. The East River Drive provides better north-south access to east part of the city and direct road to airport. It has 30 metres (98 ft) RoW.
Recreation and amenities
The two-level promenade is planned and the lower promenade is already constructed. These promenades provide continuous 11.2 kilometres (7.0 mi) long walkway along the river on the east side and 11.3 kilometres (7.0 mi) on west side. The width of the promenade varies from 6 to 18 metres. The 31 Ghats are constructed at regular interval along the lower promenade for access to the water. The boating stations are constructed for recreational purpose and for water-based public transport in the future. Three such stations are open.
The 5.07 hectares (12.5 acres) Events Ground is an event ground with infrastructure facilities. It serves as open venue for variety of purpose and revenue source for the project. The lawn is spread over 40,000 square metres (430,000 sq ft) and can host over 50,000 people. The 0.9 hectares (2.2 acres) laundry campus with seven blocks opened in February 2014. It has washing areas on the ground level and drying facilities on the terraces. Fourteen public utilities are constructed.
The Sabarmati Ashram will be also connected to lower promenade and existing steps will be developed as an amphitheater. The 3.3 ha Heritage Plaza along the city walls between Ellis Bridge and Nehru Bridge will be designed as open space showcasing heritage, history and culture of the city. Some sports complexes are also proposed.
- Parks and gardens
Nearly 26% of the reclaimed land will be used for the parks and gardens to enhance environment and for public recreation. Some parks are already constructed and expanded while others are under construction and proposed.
The 6 ha park near Subhash Bridge built at the cost of ₹16.60 crore (US$2.3 million). It is spread over an area of 60,000 sq m, has of a lotus lake, amphitheatre, stepwell and 2-km long walkway. It was opened in October 2013. The 1.8 ha park near Usmanpura were opened in October 2013. The 5 ha Riverfront Flower Park, spread over 45,000 sq m, houses 330 native and exotic flower species. It was constructed at the cost of ₹18.75 crore (US$2.6 million) and opened in March 2016. The children's park near Dafnala is opened in 2019.
The 10.4 ha urban forest is built in Paldi which is divided in two parts by Ambedkar Bridge. The north part serves as garden while the south part is a biodiversity park. It will cost ₹167 crore (US$23 million). A biodiversity park, spread over two hectares land, houses around 7000 trees of over 120 species and 35 species of native as well as migratory birds such as boot-headed eagle, egrets, ibis, white-throated kingfisher, purple swamphen and sparrows. Some species of butterflies and snakes are also there. The SRFDL used the Miyawaki method of plantation with five saplings per square metre of land. It planted around 70,000 saplings on land between Ambedkar bridge and Sport Club.
The 0.9 ha amusement park is also proposed near Dadhichi bridge. The 1.4 ha park at Khanpur is proposed as a garden as well as location for concerts and outdoor performances.
Several markets, vending areas, business and event grounds are planned. Ravivari or Gujari Bazar, the informal Sunday Market held under Ellis Bridge is moved to the new location near Gaekwad Haveli. The open air market has function arrangement of zones and 1641 platforms for vendors. It was opened to the public in February 2014. The 5.7 ha Exhibition Centre, a trade-fair facility, is proposed on the eastern bank of the river. The 0.5 ha plaza at Vallabhsadan is also proposed as a market along upper promenade.
- Sports complexes
Three sports complexes are proposed; at Paldi (7.1 ha) for city-level sports, at Pirana (4.2 ha) for informal sports and at Shahpur (2.3 ha).
Residential and commercial development
It is planned to use nearly 14% of the reclaimed land for residential and commercial purposes. Total 52 buildings will be constructed including eight museums. For maximum usage of land, the floor space index (FSI) has been raised up to 5. The funds raised by selling the land will recover the cost of the construction and sustain the management of the riverfront. All construction will have to follow certain design guidelines. Four of these 42 proposed buildings will be 101 metres tall.
In 2017, the SRDFL attempted to sell the development rights of the land but failed. In 2020, the SRFDCL appointed JLL India to monetise around 500 acre 150,000,000 square feet (14,000,000 m2) land which is valued ₹3,500 crore (US$490 million).
The SRFDCL office complex was constructed at the cost of ₹48.83 crore (US$6.8 million) in 2015.
The Phase 2 of the project proposed an extension of the riverfront towards north, 5.4-km on east side and 4.3-km on west side. It also proposed 180 high-rise residential buildings as well as commercial buildings on the reclaimed land. In 2019 state budget, total ₹850 crore (US$120 million) was provisioned for Phase 2.
The riverfront is featured in several Gujarati as well as Bollywood films. It hosts several annual events like Sabarmati Marathon, Sabarmati Cyclothon, flower shows, International Kite Festival and airshows. Its continuous promenade attracts runners and fitness enthusiasts. It also hosts trade shows, exhibitions and private wedding events.
Criticism and controversy
The peak discharge in the Sabarmati in August 2006 was between 260,000 and 310,000 cu ft/s (8,800 m3/s), which caused floods that washed away hundreds of hutments. However, Gujarat state irrigation department measured a peak flow of 550,000 cu ft/s (16,000 m3/s) in 1973, before construction of Dharoi dam. So the project is criticized for lower capacity of 470,000 cu ft/s (13,000 m3/s). There are also concerns regarding perennial status of the river as it depends on the Narmada canal for water.
The project was delayed several times due to issues regarding relocation and rehabilitation of more than 10000 slum dwellers along the river banks. After petitions by activists, the Gujarat High Court intervened and ordered to stop demolition of slums until proper planning is implemented. The relocation and rehabilitation is completed later and faced criticism of activists for delays. Around 5000 families were relocated.
Recognition and impact
- 1999: Prime Minister's Award for excellence in urban planning and design
- 2006: Prime Ministers Award for excellence in “Urban Design & Concept” Award - Excellence in “Urban Design and Concept”
- 2006: National Safety Council of India - Safety Award (Prashansa Patra)
- 2011: Housing and Urban Development Corporation Award (HUDCO) - Innovative Infrastructure Development
- 2012: Housing and Urban Development Corporation Award (HUDCO) - Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment
- 2014: Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) Vishwakarma Award - Best Construction Project
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