In­dia has for­got­ten the value of rivers FIX­ING THE RIVER

Zone O in the cur­rent Master Plan Delhi has been de­signed to keep peo­ple away from the river Ya­muna

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Van­dana Ram­nani

Most In­dian cities - be it Delhi, Varanasi, Kochi, Ahmed­abad, Kolkata, Chen­nai, Hyderabad, Pune or Kan­pur - have emerged on the banks of rivers A pre­cious nat­u­ral resource and a valu­able cul­tural el­e­ment, rivers in most cities to­day are noth­ing more than open sew­ers. There is, there­fore, an ur­gent need for their restora­tion, con­ser­va­tion and re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion through proper master plan­ning.

The Zone O in the new Master Plan Delhi is geared to pro­tect the river Ya­muna, but by keep­ing peo­ple away from it, say ex­perts. This is not the so­lu­tion to save, clean and sus­tain the ecol­ogy of the river.

With the ad­vent of piped wa­ter sup­plies, the river has grad­u­ally lost its im­por­tance. Un­for­tu­nately, we have for­got­ten the sig­nif­i­cant role rivers play in ur­ban set­tle­ments and they are now ne­glected. Rivers in In­dian cities are noth­ing more than open sew­ers to­day, with in­dis­crim­i­nate garbage dump­ing, slowly mov­ing to­wards death, says Pro­fes­sor P S N Rao, an ur­ban ex­pert and pro­fes­sor at SPA, Delhi.

While In­dian cities have master plans pre­scrib­ing land uses and other things, lit­tle ef­fort is spared to­wards de­tail­ing of the river. Quite con­trary to In­dian master plan­ning prac­tices, in most of the West­ern world, spe­cific master plans for rivers have been cre­ated and im­ple­mented, he says, adding con­trary to In­dian master plan­ning prac­tices, in most of the west­ern world, spe­cific master plans for rivers have been cre­ated and im­ple­mented, he says.

Manit Ras­togi of Mor­pho­gen­e­sis says that ev­ery river that flows through a city must act as its pri­mary cul­tural node. All over the world peo­ple are en­gaged with the nat­u­ral el­e­ments of the city and that in­cludes the river. River­front de­vel­op­ments al­low peo­ple to feel and ex­pe­ri­ence the de­vel­op­ment. The Ya­muna is a 1200 long of which 20 km is in Delhi. But the prob­lem is that is an ex­tended net­work of sewage, a nul­lah and has no wa­ter. For the river­front to be suc­cess­ful, the river should be suc­cess­ful too. For any river front de­vel­op­ment to be suc­cess­ful there ought to be a human and wa­ter in­ter­face and to make that hap­pen one has to con­struct riv- er­side walk­ways, cul­tural/so­cial recre­ational zones which al­low peo­ple to come to the river that is a des­ti­na­tion. The Zone O as in the new Master Plan has been de­signed to keep peo­ple away from the river and that is not his­toric or cul­tural ge­n­e­sis of the city.

The Sabar­mati model is not nec­es­sar­ily the best. There is a tremen­dous amount of con­crete used on the edge and that has a ten­dency to gen­er­ate a lot of heat. “There is need to have trees and shade. The suc­cess of this model is yet to be es­tab­lished as this is still work in progress,” he adds. and im­prove nat­u­ral habi­tats to sup­port wildlife, pre­serve and en­hance the flood con­trol fea­tures and fos­ter a growth in com­mu­nity aware­ness of and pride in the Los An­ge­les River.

In the year 1990, the Save our River Seine ( SOS ) Plan was ini­ti­ated in the city of Paris in France. The goals of this plan were to pre­serve, pro­tect and en­hance the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and her­itage resource, re­store and re­pair fea­tures of the en­vi­ron­ment that have been de­graded, im­prove wa­ter level, flow and qual­ity, to raise the pub­lic’s aware­ness of all as­pects, im­prove the en­vi­ron­men­tal be­hav­iour of private in­dus­try, gov­ern­ments and the gen­eral pub­lic and im­prove ap­pro­pri­ate pub­lic ac­cess along the Seine River.

In South Korea, Seoul, a US$384 mil­lion re­cov­ery pro­ject of the stream called Cheong­gyecheon was un­der­taken.

The + POOL pro­ject is aimed at cre­at­ing a plus-shaped swim­ming area in the Hud­son River. The pro­ject is an an­ti­dote to the pol­luted and in­ac­ces­si­ble rivers of New York in that it cre­ates a swim-friendly float­ing pool clean enough for ev­ery­body to swim in.

The River Fez pro­ject in Mo­rocco is aimed at work­ing to re­vi­talise the river Fez in the heart of the city’s me­d­ina and UNESCO her­itage site. City au­thor­i­ties ne­glected the river for many decades, leav­ing it to be­come an un­ac­ces­si­ble and for­got­ten con­tam­i­nated sewer. Ex­perts worked with the city’s wa­ter depart­ment to un­cover the north­ern part of the river by re­mov­ing the con­crete slabs and restor­ing its banks to pro­vide a breath­ing space in the cen­tre of this his­tor­i­cal city.


The tra­di­tional model of river­front de­vel­op­ment and by far the most suc­cess­ful are the ghats. They al­low peo­ple to come up and in­ter­act with the river such as in Varanasi

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