CM Raje’s bid to re­sus­ci­tate Dravya­vati

India Today - - STATES - By Ro­hit Par­i­har

When she be­came chief min­is­ter in De­cem­ber 2013, Va­sund­hara Raje promised to re­claim and clean up the Dravya­vati, a rivulet aka Aman­ishah nul­lah that had be­come a reek­ing drain along its course through Jaipur city. Orig­i­nat­ing in the Na­har­garh hills, the rivulet has a sixth of the city’s un­treated sewage and large amounts of garbage dumped into its al­ready shrunk chan­nel ow­ing to ram­pant en­croach­ment.

True to her word, Raje has en­sured the al­lo­ca­tion of Rs 1,672 crore “to bring back the lost grandeur of Dravya­vati” by Oc­to­ber 2018, just in time for the state assem­bly polls ex­pected later in the year. The CM is de­ter­mined to show­case the ven­ture like Ahmed­abad’s much-talked-about Sabar­mati River­front pro­ject.

Flagged off by Raje last Au­gust in the pres­ence of the then Tata Group chair­man Cyrus Mistry, the pro­ject was awarded through the Swiss Chal­lenge Method to a con­sor­tium con­sist­ing of Tata Projects and the Shang­hai Ur­ban Con­struc­tion (Group) Cor­po­ra­tion (which is al­ready work­ing on three metro rail projects in In­dia). The Jaipur Devel­op­ment Author­ity (JDA), which is im­ple­ment­ing the pro­ject, has se­cured a Rs 1,098 crore loan from the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion Plan­ning Board and hopes to raise the re­main­der from the state.

Al­ready be­gin­ning to take shape in places, when com­plete, the restored rivulet will fea­ture a 47 km concrete-lined shal­low chan­nel vary­ing in width from 150-400 feet with 100 fall struc­tures to store storm wa­ter. Five sewage treatment plants (STPs) with a com­bined

ca­pac­ity of 170 MLD (mil­lion litres per day) are also planned to en­sure that no raw sewage flows into the Dravya­vati.

To be built and main­tained for 10 years by the con­sor­tium, the pro­ject in­cludes the re­de­vel­op­ment of river­banks with walk­ways, cy­cle tracks, park benches and 16,000 new trees planted across a 65,000 square me­tre green belt and three pub­lic gar­dens. The JDA hopes to re­cover a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the in­vest­ment by auc­tion­ing some 115 hectares of land it hopes to re­claim by evict­ing en­croach­ers. A town square, com­mer­cial park, cul­ture plaza and a fash­ion street are also said to be in the pipe­line.

How­ever, Raje’s dream river­front beau­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­ject is not with­out


its crit­ics. Pradesh Congress Com­mit­tee chief Sachin Pi­lot, for in­stance, is ques­tion­ing the pri­or­i­ties of her govern­ment, in­sist­ing that in­fra­struc­ture should take prece­dence over beau­ti­fi­ca­tion. “This govern­ment says that it has no money to re­build roads or for garbage dis­posal or an ef­fi­cient pub­lic trans­port sys­tem,” he says. “Yet, it has some­how found around Rs 1,700 crore for a pro­ject of ques­tion­able vi­a­bil­ity.”

Iron­i­cally, Raje, who aban­doned the sec­ond phase of the Jaipur metro, cit­ing its un­vi­a­bil­ity, has re­jected any ap­pre­hen­sions over whether her river ven­ture would end up be­com­ing a ‘white ele­phant’, given the seem­ing im­pos­si­bil­ity of main­tain­ing peren­nial flow along the 47 kilo­me­tres of a sea­sonal storm rivulet. But JDA com­mis­sioner Vaib­hav Ga­le­ria is con­fi­dent that the chief min­is­ter’s river pro­ject will trans­form and beau­tify Jaipur in “a way that can­not be imag­ined”.

Will it? Or will it join the ranks of grand whim­si­cal ven­tures like Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party chief Mayawati’s Ambed­kar Park in Luc­know?

Concrete lin­ing the chan­nel WORK IN PROGRESS

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