Sabarmati riverfront to get longer with open gyms, restaurants

Sabarmati riverfront to get longer with open gyms, restaurants

The Sabarmati riverfront, one of Ahmedabad’s most defining landscapes which has hosted at least three heads of state, is set to get longer and greener, offering an uninterrupted view of the river on both its west and east banks.

Tenders for a 1-km pilot of Phase 2 of the riverfront project were floated recently, with the Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner’s draft budget tabled on Wednesday allocating Rs 1,050 crore for the new stretch.

Work on the 11-km-long Phase 1 of the riverfront — extending from Vasna Barrage to Torrent power house on the west side and to Dafnala on the east — was carried out in phases, with the last stretch completed in 2016.

The new stretch, nearly 6 km long, will extend the river front on both banks of the Sabarmati river up to Indira Bridge, with roads connecting Narendra Modi stadium on the west bank and the world heritage city on the east bank.

Plans in the new phase include an “international park” to showcase “green wealth from different countries”, a ferry service and possibly even a water taxi, said Keshav Verma, chairman of the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (SRFDCL), the city corporation’s Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) launched in 1997 to execute the project.

Unlike Phase 1 of the riverfront, where a grey retention wall prevents a clear view of the river, the new stretch, say officials, will offer an uninterrupted view of the Sabarmati.

Varma said that with the city’s “centre of gravity shifting to the riverfront”, many builders are showing interest. “But we are being very careful. We want only those people who fit into our masterplan.”

“Covid has taught us the interdependence of environment and health. The river should be a source of happiness, a stress buster, and it has to be clean. Congested spaces need to be replaced with open spaces and wide footpaths. Thus, this will not be a car-centric development but an ecosystem with shaded pathways where the pedestrian is dominant,” said Varma.

While officials estimate that the project will be ready in about four years, Varma said that with the market still not conducive post Covid, they are in no rush to develop.

This new stretch will be at three levels — an elevated road on top, followed by spaces for markets and restaurants and cultural centres, and then the promenade.

City-based architect and urban planner Bimal Patel, whose firm HCP Design Planning and Management Private Limited (HCPDPML) is designing the second phase of the riverfront, said, “For the second phase, since the two sides have less development, the river width is more and thus there is wider land to reclaim. This will offer new opportunities to create a new stepped landscaped embankment.”

Patel’s firm is also designing the Central Vista project in the Capital.

As part of the ‘stepped landscaped embankment’, the promenades are being designed in different layers to facilitate a clear view of the river from any of these layers.

The promenade with a dedicated walkway and cycle track will be closest to the river, followed by a second one that will be a green belt, said Varma. Officials said they also plan to grow 2.35 lakh trees on both the east and west sides of the riverfront.

Though the number of layers or promenades would vary at different stretches, one of the layers will feature sports modules, with sports activities ranging from rock climbing to open gymnasiums every 200-300 metres. One of the promenades will also have recreational facilities such as libraries and restaurants, with ramps and wide footpaths to link the promenades.

Patel said an added advantage in Phase 2 of the riverfront project is that unlike Phase 1, this won’t involve rehabilitation or relocation “since there is nearly no slum habitation on either side”. Around 10,500 riverbank slum units were relocated in Phase 1.

Besides the 6-km stretch in Phase 2, the SRFDCL has invited bids to develop a one-km stretch along the Ahmedabad cantonment area. Patel said that while this stretch was part of the first phase, it couldn’t be developed because of “land acquisition issues as it is under Ministry of Defence”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hosted three heads of state on the Sabarmati riverfront, beginning with Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2014, Japanese premier Shinzo Abe in 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018.

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