Sabarmati Riverfront is a waterfront developed along banks of Sabarmati river in the city of Ahmedabad, India. It is being developed by Sabarmati River Front Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL), a special purpose vehicle of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for project.
The first known proposal for developing the riverfront was given in 1961 by 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 1960s. He distanced himself from the project citing difference between his proposal and the project being implemented.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) set up the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (SRFDCL) in May 1997 funded by central government of India with a seed capital of ₹10 million (US$150,000) and was charged with the responsibility of developing the approximately 10.4 km stretch along the river in the city.
The project has encountered several delays due to concerns regarding water level, flooding, rehabilitation of displaced slum dwellers and met with severe opposition from activists involved with slum rehabilitation. However, the process of obtaining land for the development, through clearance and reclamation has been substantially completed. It is also the largest slum displacing project of the city till date.
In the first phase, EPC identified a 20 km stretch of the riverfront extending from Subhash bridge to Vasna barrage and proposed to reclaim 162 hectares (400 acres) of the riverbed. SRFDCL planned to sell or lease out a part of it to finance the project. In 2003, it extended the project to cover a 20 km stretch from the Narmada main canal to Vasna barrage.
The average width of the Sabarmati channel was 382 metres (1,253 ft) and the narrowest cross-section 330 metres (1,080 ft). To develop the riverfront, SRFDCL had uniformly narrowed the channel to 275 metres (902 ft), ensuring this constriction did not affect its carrying capacity, according to officials. According to them, 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. Officials claim embankments being built along both the banks will protect the entire reclaimed area, including resettlement sites, from floods, a statement that has been criticised as unsubstantiated.
SRFDCL plans to sell 21 per cent for residential and commercial purposes and rest of the land will be used to set up promenades, informal markets, gardens and to extend the road network. For maximum usage of land, the floor space index (FSI) has been raised up to 5. A portion of ten per cent has been reserved for the rehabilitation of slum dwellers. A 1997 EPC study of the estimated 10,000 families living along the riverbank concluded that 4,400 were to be resettled and rehabilitated. In 2003, the Gujarat government transferred land to AMC, stipulating that resettlement and rehabilitation was to follow epc recommendations. This has been challenged as a severe undercounting. A survey in 2003 by Swapan Garain of the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurship Management, Mumbai, established that the number of slum households along the riverbank was 14,555, of which 6,293 needed to be rehabilitated.
The EPC plan assures slum dwellers secure tenure, access to roads, infrastructure services and a 2–3 km proximity to their present location, to maintain livelihood sources. In 2005 however, Girish Patel, a social activist in Ahmedabad, filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court, arguing that the scheme would in fact disrupt livelihoods. Acting on the petition, on 8 March 2005, the court issued a stay order on eviction and called for policy documents, when formulated, for prior approval.
SRFDCL's intention to cash in on the new perennial status of the Sabarmati by keeping water in the course throughout the year in the 10.5 km city stretch also caused apprehensions. The river used to be seasonal, retaining water for two to three months. According to the EIA, maintaining a water depth of 1 m at Subhash bridge will require a continuous flow of 108 to 140 mld from October to June. As of now, surplus water in the Narmada main canal is being diverted to ensure this. But given that Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam, responsible for Narmada water allocation, has no agreement with SRFDCL, Sabarmati's perennial status may be threatened unless AMC shells out.
Project is undertaken with a prime objective of environmental improvement and provision of housing for the poor who living in life-threatening conditions along river bed. The project has been planned as a self-financing project. The revenues would be generated from the sale of proclaimed land. ₹12 billion (US$180 million) project includes walkway development, road development along the river, promenades, garden, construction of 4000 houses under slum rehabilitation, amusement parks, golf courses, water sports park and construction of Kotarpur Weir.
10.4 km stretch of walkway is open for public use. Water amusement rides including speed boat and motor boat are working between Nehru bridge and Gandhi bridge. Both walkway and rides were inaugurated by CM Narendra Modi (now prime minister) on 15 August 2012.
- HUDCO National Award 2012 for Innovative Infrastructure Development
- Prime Minister's Award for excellence in urban planning and design 1999
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- "AMC bags two awards for social housing, riverfront projects". The Times of India. TNN. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- "Sabarmati river front body gets PM's award". The Hindu Business Line (New Delhi). 11 April 2003. Retrieved 12 March 2013.