Building on the success of the first phase, which has given the face of the ancient city a makeover, Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Riverfront project 2.0 is aiming to unleash the city's redesigned riverfront's latent potential as a catalyst for economic growth. A provision of Rs 850 crore has already been made in the state's budget for the project which would include an extension of the riverfront's length by 5 km on each side.
Says Keshav Verma, an ex-bureaucrat who has taken over as the chairman of the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation, "with most great cities being located on river banks, we are seeking to emulate the Paris model, which is counted among the most comprehensive riverfronts as far as engineering and hydrology are concerned". While in totality the multidimensional project aims to provide Ahmedabad with a meaningful waterfront environment and redefine the city's identity around the Sabarmati, Phase 2 would strive to unleash the economic potential of the central business districts on its two sides. "These central business districts would become the catalysts for economic activity," he says.
By channelling the river to a constant width of 263 m under Phase 1 of the project, riverbed land has been reclaimed to create 11.25 km of a public riverfront on both the banks-202.79 hectares of land has been reclaimed so far. With the project getting underway in 2005, work on 11 km of embankments on the two sides is complete. Also ready is the lower-level river promenade, providing a 22-km-long strip for pedestrian use. Among the other operational amenities are three boating stations, a laundry campus, two parks, and a riverfront market.
On the drawing board under Phase 2 are around 180 high-rise residential complexes dotting the banks of the river, as also strategically located commercial hubs. "The move is towards centrality and aggregation and a compact city with walk-to-work being a key issue. We have international property consultants and reputed real estate players on board and will seek their assistance to navigate the strengths of the areas around the riverfront. We will also focus on green buildings to preserve the ecosystem," Verma discloses. And to achieve the goal of making the riverfront the green lung of the city, trees are being planted on a war footing, with 72,000 trees having been planted at the scenic stretch so far. "We are deploying the famed Miyawaki fast-growth method to cover the embankment walls".
Verma says "we also propose to celebrate the Sabarmati river in a big way by making it a hub of art, culture and recreation". For connoisseurs of art and culture, Sabarmati riverfront paintings would adorn the walls of the riverway. "We want to make it a canvas for showcasing the arts and crafts of Gujarat. A lot of gardens have been developed along the front while several more are in the offing," he states. Also on the cards are the development of a social infrastructure ecosystem including water sports facilities, a convention centre, a museum of life, a Sabarmati Birders Club and water taxis.