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River Action Plan

A civilisational loss

Author(s): Aditya Batra
Issue Date: Aug 31, 2011
One of your more quoted statements is that the Bagmati is dirty because there is too much money flowing in it. Bagmati is nature. She needs to be honoured and feared like nature. Feared like a teacher. She does not like money. Hindus believe when they die, they will be reclaimed by the five elements or panchatatva—jal (water), prithvi (land), vayu (wind), agni (fire) and aakash (space or void). I’m almost 90 and very sensitive to the need to protect nature. It will then care for us. If you start handling nature in a bad way, it will not honour you. If we concentrate our science on these five elements, we may be able to revive the Bagmati. Maybe it will take a long time. The easiest way to revive the Bagmati now is by not thinking big projects.


The land has been levelled along this stretch and the tree line has been pushed further. The cleared away rubble, however, finds its way back into the river. Can the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project undo this national tendency to treat rivers as drains or sites to dump waste? (By Ravleen Kaur (Reporter, Down to Earth) Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)


People living on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati use this 10-km stretch to dump garbage. The Sabarmati Riverfront Project promises to convert this stretch into an open space interspersed with residential and commercial complexes. But no alternative garbage dumping site has been identified by the project planners. No rehabilitation package has been announced either, for the soon-to-be displaced 30,000 families living in shanties on the river bank (By Ravleen Kaur (Reporter, Down to Earth) Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)


This sewer pipe opens directly into the Sabarmati. The project will connect the city’s sewerage to a trans sewer interceptor. The interceptor will run along the river to collect sewage from the city sewer lines opening into it and empty into a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) downstream. Work is still to begin on laying the pipes and building the STP (By Ravleen Kaur (Reporter, Down to Earth) Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)


Children play with the onions rotting on the embankments which double as a wholesale market for vegetables in the evenings. The EIA, carried out to find the environmental fallout of the Sabarmati project, had suggested terraced or sloping embankments to spread the impact of the flood waters over a larger surface area (By Ravleen Kaur (Reporter, Down to Earth) Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)


The Sabarmati Project will involve raising a 28-ft retaining wall that will run parallel to the river. The adjoining land will be levelled and raised to the retaining wall’s height. This may hamper the natural drainage of the terrain which slopes towards the river By Ravleen Kaur (Reporter, Down to Earth) Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)


Dredging is on in full swing under the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project that aims to constrict the river to a uniform width of 275 km. This will be difficult as the Sabarmati is a monsoon river. It recently saw flash floods following a spate of erratic rainfall Highrises that house Ahmedabad’s financial complexes frame the skyline. More such complexes will come up in 10-15% of the land reclaimed under the project and help recover costs. The state government claims that this project will also enhance the city’s international image

How green is the budget?

Issue Date: Jul 31, 2009
Climate change and adaptive agriculture given a miss finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's 2009-10 budget has tried to invigorate rural consumption.

Coliform will count

Issue Date: Jan 31, 2009
Environment ministry admits bacteria is major river pollutant MAJOR rivers in India have high bacterial contamination, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (moef) said in a press release dated December 24, 2008. Yamuna and Ganga top the list of most polluted rivers (see graph below).

Kolkata reconnects with its riverfront

Author(s): Bharat Lal Seth
Issue Date: Oct 15, 2007
An ambitious riverfront development project has been drawing many visitors in Kolkata. The Millennium Park runs along Strand Road, for a kilometre on the eastern bank of the Hooghly river and has been a successful attempt to bring it back to the forefront of the city's landscape.
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