A statement by the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize attributed the special mention to the AMC for “its early successes in implementing a comprehensive City Development Plan, which aims to transform India’s seventh largest city into a more livable, equitable and sustainable metropolis with a dynamic multi-sector economy and an emerging auto-hub.” The statement goes on, “as it displays the first sign of dramatic physical transformation, Ahmedabad sends a message of hope to cities that are seeking to rise above the proliferating problems of pollution, worsening traffic conditions and inadequate affordable housing.”
The statement notes the encouraging role played by Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi in this remarkable urban transformation. It attributes the AMC plan’s (that is in line with the Gujarat State Urban Development Year 2005) commencement success to intensive public consultations and the inspiration and leadership of Shri Modi. The prize authorities acknowledged the key elements of the plan that are:
- To unlock land potential through urban reform.
- To invest in environment and infrastructure.
- To ensure inclusive development to address issues of the urban poor beyond basic needs.
- Capacity building and institutional strengthening.
The statement lauds the AMC for its vision combined with strong political will for tackling civic issues pertaining to Ahmedabad. “AMC has distinguished itself as a forward-looking organization and an inspiring model for sustainable development. Its early achievements reaffirm the importance of a clearly articulated and holistic vision combined with strong political will in tackling urban problems” it read.
In particular, 3 unique projects in Ahmedabad that have been mentioned as illustrations of the city’s strides towards urban regeneration:
JANMARG (AHMEDABAD’S BUS RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM):
Ahmedabad’s BRTS has been lauded for addressing public transport needs of the city as well as being the first step in a more comprehensive transport plan to Ahmedabad. The Special Mention states that BRTS has witnessed a rise in public transport usage and not only has it caused a catalytic effect along BRTS corridors but also reduced air pollution significantly due to the CNG component.
Started in October 2009, Janmarg is one of the prime examples of innovative strides in urban development. Currently, it has a network length of 45 km and another 40 km is under construction. 67 BRTS bus stations are operating today and the transit system has over a hundred buses criss crossing the streets of Ahmedabad. On a given day, an average of 1,13,200 citizens use the system.
At a time when the BRTS implementation has come under strain in several urban centres, Ahmedabad’s Janmarg stands out as an inspiring exception. Janmarg has been the recipient of many domestic and international awards since 2009.
KANKARIA LAKE REDEVELOPMENT:
In the last decade, the Gujarat Government made a committed effort to completely overhaul the area surrounding Ahmedabad’s iconic Kankaria Lake. The Special Mention of the Lee Kuan Yew award notes this qualitative change in Kankaria Lake.
“Equally visible is the 2008 Kankaria Lake redevelopment. This former dilapidated and polluted royal bathing ground is now a vibrant cultural and recreation centre after implementation of practical solutions to improve the environment, organise traffic movement and rehabilitate the food vendors” reads their statement.
Today, the area surrounding the Kankaria Lake has become a much-visited place by Ahmedabadis and visitors from nearby areas. The annual Kankaria Carnival has become a true celebration of life that draws a variety of people from all walks of life. In 2011, Shri Modi unveiled a 2,500 sq ft sandstone mural, which is a part of a 30,000 sq ft project to bring back to life the glorious history of Gujarat since the ancient times.
SABARMATI RIVERFRONT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT:
On the successful development of the Sabarmati Riverfront it was noted, “The Sabarmati Riverfront project, now in development, will have an even greater impact on the city as it addresses flood, sewage and water pollution issues, relocation and rehabilitation of slums, and the provision of new public and open spaces.”
At the heart of Ahmedabad’s unique identity is the Sabarmati River. It is truly the lifeline of the city but over the years it had become better known as a dry patch of land that could host circuses and cricket matches. But, over the past decade the Sabarmati River has received a phenomenal facelift making it one of the most visited public places in the city.
Today, the Sabarmati Riverfront combines aesthetic beauty, recreation space, a hub for informal markets and the site that hosted the annual International Kite Festival. It has also added tremendous value in terms of reducing sewage and water pollution in the city. Just a few days ago, KPMG ranked the SRFD Project among the top 10 most innovative projects towards urban regeneration. Recently, in April this year the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) received HUDCO National Award 2012 for innovative infrastructure development for the Riverfront Project.
Gujarat is poised towards attaining newer heights in the area of urban development and such recognition will surely serve as a great impetus to Team Gujarat’s handwork, dedication and determination in creating better cities.