Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My City My Responsibility - Experience at the Sabarmati Riverfront

Dear All, 
Expanse of the Sabarmati River from the upper level promenade

Me and Aditi at the riverfront
In my earlier blogs I mentioned about the Local Conference of Youth on Climate Action that I attended in Ahmedabad and how I was looking forward to see the Sabarmati Riverfront
Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is planning a riverfront for Pune's Mula-Mutha river on the same lines as Sabaramati riverfront and so I was curious to see the same.  

Aditi Kale who was my companion from Pune to this Conference was also excited to see the Sabaramati river and so accompanied me. We had a long day at the conference and a get together with our fellow participants. Still we decided to wake up early the next day (our last day at the conference) and experience the morning view of the river. I had witnessed the night view of the riverfront with all the lighting effects and it looked beautiful! This made me more curious to see what all features are developed and how does the river look like at day time.  

Upper level Promenade
So finally, we reached there, the riverfront has two levels or promenade as they say on the Sabarmati riverfront development master plan. The upper level has manicured lawns, tree plantations, amphi theatre kind of arrangement for people to sit or undertake events, jogging tracks etc basically an open space along the riverside. The lower level of the riverfront had a continuous walkway parallel to the river basically to provide access to the river, there are ghats also at some places. 90 percent of this area was covered by concrete lined by a series of trees on one side. The other side i.e the waters edge has a continuous concrete seating with railing, where one could sit and feel the river. We sat there and could see how dirty the river was. There were different types of wastes floating, methane bubbles erupting as a result of loads of organic waste or sewage let into the river and also oil spill. Yes! oil from the boats that are used for recreational purposes as well as for water based mode of transport, had added another pollutant in the river. 
Lower level Promenade 
The expanse of the river is wide and looks great from above, but when we go near to the river, we can see, it is really in a bad state. But the worst part is people are happily walking and jogging on the promenade, meditating, studying and we could see kids playing and cycling without realizing the health impacts of this river on their daily lives. However, when I asked the security guard about his opinion on the riverfront, he made an obvious statement that 'Log toh bahut aate hain par nadi kitni gandi hai'. It is such a basic thing that the river should be CLEAN

River is the only source of water and people of Ahmedabad who face tremendous water issues, should rise and strive for ensuring that the state of their river is healthy. But the aesthetically good looking promenades have created a blindfold on their minds it seems. Nobody bothers to see river water quality and how to ensure it is improved, how pollutants inflow in the river should be restricted and most importantly how river can be kept flowing. Moreover, it seems that these aspects have been completely ignored or not given any preference in the name of aesthetics by the developers! 

When we met our fellow participants and discussed it with them, they completely agreed with us. Not only that I would like to mention about Heli Shah one of the youngest participant in the conference was shocked to know that the aesthetically good looking river is ecologically almost dead. Considering the water problems that the city faces, this state of river is just not accepted. Heli was literally in tears after knowing the sad state of Sabarmati. We need to have compassion for our rivers and all other natural resources and strive to ensure that these are conserved in a sustainable manner.  Again, I would stress that we are not against development, but it is also crucial to understand that our rivers are our natural heritage. They should be conserved and restored instead of developed. 

Concern about Pune's riverfront development led us at Samuchit to undertake a study on designing an alternate riverfront strategy in collaboration with Jeevitnadi and Ecological Society. Vishaka Tawani an architecture student is working on making the plan for this strategy by taking a representative stretch, I have written about this study in my previous blogs as well. Now that our riverfront strategy is finalized I would like to share our alternative suggestions in my upcoming blogs!
Teen Darwaza our meeting point 

is a beautiful city, with good food and fun loving people. We had a variety of tasty foodstuffs at the famous Manik Chowk Food Market situated in the core part of the city. Gujarat is famous for its tasty Vegetarian food and soft drinks especially the variety of Soda that you get in the city is simply crazy!

Pournima Agarkar.

1 comment:

Ranjit Gadgil said...

Nice blog.
I've been here a couple of times. Never noticed how bad the water was. Have always been horrified by the enormous concrete retaining wall.