Part 6: Modi phenomenon: Propaganda or Reality?

In part 5 of the case study, we scrutinized some of the infrastructure projects initiated by Govt of Gujarat under Modi’s leadership which had received international accolades.
Link to earlier parts of the cases study:
http://guruprasad.net/posts/tag/modi/

In this part, we shall analyze some of the development projects related to rivers, ecology & public recreation.

Few weeks ago, I received the following image from a friend who claimed that it is an aerial view of a river in Gujarat:
sabarmati_aerial _1Frankly speaking, it looked too good to be true and I dismissed it outright, suspecting to be an art of Photoshop or a river in China. Few days later, I came across similar image being circulated in social media mentioning it as Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad (Gujarat)

sabarmati_aerial _2It got me thinking and hence began my research into this sub-topic. One of the first things I wanted to find out was if this is indeed true and if it was during Modi’s rule. The easiest way would be to use “Google Earth” software to check the satellite images. Using the search keywords “Sabarmati River Ahmedabad”, I was able to pinpoint to this location, and using timeline feature in Google Earth, I was able to fetch historical images of the same location dating back to 2002 (along with images from 2005, 2008 & 2012), and the results were startling to say the least!! Never before could I imagine that an infrastructure project of this kind undertaken in India with such efficiency & quality to give it a “foreign” finish.

The following screenshots of Google Earth satellite images between 2002 and 2012 depicts the evolution of the project.

sabarmati_2002
sabarmati_2005
sabarmati_2008
sabarmati_2012

Naturally, the next thing was to find out the purpose of the project & it’s execution details. After digging into official archives, reports, news & photos, I have come up with the following observations.

Sabarmati River was the lifeline of Ahmedabad ever since the inception of the city but due to the rapid expansion of the city which led to haphazard growth & drianage woes, the river was neglected & pushed into a state of obscurity. Due to disturbances in water table (urbanization being one of the reasons), the river was dry for most part of the year and was encroached by slums, stalls & bazaars.

sabarmati_dry
sabarmati_bazaar

Over the last last 50 years, there were several proposals to revive the river with plans to develop a riverfront, but it was only in 2003 when the project (Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project) really took off under the leadership of Narendra Modi.

sabarmati_project_launchedhttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Sabarmati-river-front-project-launched-in-Abad/articleshow/43396160.cms

modi_riverfront_model

The main objectives were

  • Revive the water table (by dredging, desilting, build retaining walls, diaphragm walls & anchor slabs).
  • Rehabilitate slum dwellers, Washermen (of Dhobi Ghats) & Gujari Bazaar.
  • Develop a long riverfront for recreational purposes.
  • Develop several Promenades & Public Gardens.

Source:
http://sabarmatiriverfront.com/

Here is a video clip from 2004 presenting the project overview:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJaJUZhDzGY

Modi had had taken this up as one of his “pet projects” and closely monitored it for the next few years through personal visits to the site
modi_sabarmati_site

To begin with, hundreds of acres of land were reclaimed and general filling done along with anchor slabs & retaining walls for water retention.

sabarmati_fillingInterceptor sewage line were built to avoid the river from being polluted.

sabarmati_interceptor_sewageConstruction of the riverfront

sabarmati_construction

Around 17,000 houses were built for the slum dwellers who were displaced due to the riverfront project.

sabarmati_slums
sabarmati_rehabilitationhttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/17000-houses-built-for-rehabilitating-slum-dwellers/articleshow/18675987.cms

The 600 year old Gujari Bazaar (Flea Market) which was on the banks of Sabarmati, was relocated to an organized space.

sabarmati_gujari_bazaar1
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Sabarmati-Riverfront-Development-all-set-to-rehabilitate-Gujari-Bazaar/articleshow/11199779.cms

Washermen earning their livelihood by the banks of Sabarmati were relocated to a new Dhobi ghat complex with modern facilities

sabarmati_dhobi_ghat1
http://deshgujarat.com/2014/02/03/in-pictures-new-iima-flyover-river-front-market-dhobi-ghat/

Finally, the riverfront was open to public.

sabarmati-riverfront-project
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-ahmedabad-shines-with-sabarmati-riverfront-1729138

Night view of the riverfront

sabarmati_riverfront_night

The next activity in the project was to develop gardens, parks & promenades.
6 parks were recently inaugurated and many more are in progress.

sabarmati_gardens1http://www.firstpost.com/topic/person/narendra-modi-lal-krishna-advani-and-narendra-modi-inaugurate-sabarmati-ri-video-isi9eGiiDIE-20711-1.html

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/nation-world/sabarmati-riverfront-project-gujarat-looks-to-promote-tourism/sabarmati-riverfront-project/slideshow/25975404.cms

The project is not only being appreciated throughout India but is acknowledged by independent international bodies as well.

National awards:
sabarmati_national_awards
http://www.thehindubusinessline.in/2003/04/12/stories/2003041201341700.htm

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/AMC-bags-two-awards-for-social-housing-riverfront-projects/articleshow/8085415.cms

International recognition:
sabarmati_international_awardsOfficial link to the KPMG report:
http://www.kpmg.com/global/en/issuesandinsights/articlespublications/infra100-world-cities/Pages/infrastructure-world-cities.aspx

Note: This case study is not to support or criticize any politician/party/govt but to dig out the reality and to quash false propaganda, if any. This case study will be updated based on more inputs & unearthing of further facts.

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