The Daryavati River in Jaipur is getting a major makeover. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has planned to give it the Sabarmati riverfront look, with greenery and promenade around it. A flagship project of the Raje government, the 47-km long Daryavati riverfront is already an attraction in the Rajasthan capital. At the moment, 16 km are ready with three parks and walking and cycling tracks.
Called the Amanishah drain, it was the dumping ground for the city's waste for years. The river used to supply water to the walled city of Jaipur in 1874 but severe drought in 1902 dried up the river. Encroachments and discharge of industrial effluents and sewage from neighbouring colonies rang the death knell of the once flourishing river.
Two years ago the Rs 1400-crore makeover project was launched along lines of the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad. Large tracts of land along the Daryavati River were reclaimed and encroachments removed. The state government has signed an agreement with TATA Project for building the riverfront and maintaining it for the next 10 years, at an additional cost of Rs 206 crore.
But the big question about availability of water for turning the nullah into a river remains. "We will not use ground water at all. It has storm water inlets that will allow rain water to flow here," said the Jaipur Development Commissioner, Vaibhav Galeria." The sewage generated by the city will be treated at five plants, with a capacity of 170 million litres per day. The water quality will also be checked by the Central Pollution Control Board, said Mr Galeria.
The Jaipur Development Authority hopes the revived Daryavati River will help recharge ground water of the city, which has gone into a dark zone.
While most of the river bed is concrete it has recharge and percolation points. At every 300 metres there are check dams and porous concrete pits for the water to seep into the ground. The last 12 km, before it meets the Dhund River downstream, the river bed will be built with gravel, which will further help recharge the ground water.
With assembly elections round the corner, there is a mad rush to complete the project. Over 7000 labourers are working overtime so that the Chief Minister can inaugurate it well ahead of time.
Prakash Lalwani, who lives in a lane 500 metres from the riverfront, told NDTV, "Right now we are not being allowed here; once it is inaugurated the gates will be opened to public. It has generated a lot of curiosity as you only see projects like these in big cities."
Not all share the same enthusiasm. Nisha, a student, who lives along the riverside pointed out, "The government has put all efforts into developing the river project but what about colonies like ours that are adjacent to the river? Our roads are in desperate need of repair. If you look 300 metres away from the river to our colony right next door, you will see it's in a dismal shape."