ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

An Ongoing Tussle between Waterfront Development and River Rejuvenation

Saving the Vishwamitri

Waterfront development projects have been promoted in the name of flood control, beautification, and urban development. However, they only replace the river’s natural riparian edge with a concrete riverfront, facilitating further encroachment on and destruction of the riverbed. The Gujarat government promulgated the Vishwamitri Riverfront Development Project as a “smart” solution to the river’s deterioration, completely ignoring environmental safeguards.

Vishwamitri river is the heart line of Vadodara city. The river originates in the western and southern slopes of the Pavagadh Hill and flows westward through Vadodara for 26.8 kilometres (km) before draining into the Gulf of Khambhat. Its unique ecosystem comprises the main river corridor, its associated tributaries, ravines, nalas/kaans (small streams/creeks), wetlands, oxbow lakes, and artificially created ponds. These serve as a natural habitat for legally protected and vulnerable species, such as mugger crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris), and are also home to abundant flora and fauna, including vulnerable species such as Ravan taad (Hyphaene dichotoma) and turtles. Historically, this rich ecosystem has provided natural floodwater control, groundwater recharge, and a habitat for diverse flora and fauna, thus promoting biodiversity and ameliorating adverse climatic conditions. The ecosystem has provided various communities alternative sources of irrigation, water supply, food, recreation, and livelihoods.

Vadodara, the third largest city in Gujarat, equally famous for its industrial development as for its environmental pollution, is located on the banks of Vishwamitri river. The city has suffered enormously from the river’s deterioration on account of rapid urbanisation and the resulting pollution, encroachment, and neglect. Broadly speaking, the major causes of the degradation are improper sewage management, an increase in impervious surface coverage, deforestation throughout the watershed, encroachment on the floodplains, a lack of concern for ecological processes, proliferation of invasive species (such as Prosopis juli ora), open dumping of solid waste, and a general lack of sensitivity to the historical repercussions of development (Mittal et al 2017; Kothari and Thomas 2015). Indiscriminate and rampant encroachment, the dumping of waste in ravines—including construction debris, municipal and industrial waste, dead carcasses, and untreated or inadequately treated sewer water—and neglect or even active participation by the local authorities in the pollution and dumping have led to the choking of ravines and wetlands, and the shrinking of the river. Consequently, the monsoons cause inundation of low-lying areas in Vadodara due to the loss of natural floodwater drainage. The deterioration of Vishwamitri river has caused severe misery among the underprivileged living in highly vulnerable, low-lying areas.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Updated On : 26th Nov, 2018
Back to Top