RAJKOT: The most crucial impediment in execution of the Rs 1,181 crore Aji riverfront project, which was stuck since last three years, got a green signal on Thursday. The state cabinet approved to transfer the land from irrigation department to the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC). However, the project will take another five years to complete if funds are released at regular intervals.
The project proposed in line with the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad was first announced in 2013 by the then chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the project then estimated at Rs 200 crore remained on paper for next two years.
It was only in 2015 that actual work on Aji riverfront project began with the setting up of special purpose vehicle (SPV) Aji River Front Development Corporation Limited (ARDCL). RMC had also received Rs 51 crore as initial grant. But by then the project cost had escalated to Rs 1,181 crore.
The project got stuck as RMC required ownership of land before applying for regulatory clearances with respective agencies. Also, the civic body required Rs 480 crore for initial contingency fund to build 36 drainage interceptor sewers to divert drainage water, build retaining walls on both sides of the river and do road networking.
"It was our long pending demand to transfer land ownership to RMC because that will make our work easy. With the state cabinet approval for land transfer, we are hopeful that subsequently fund for this project will be released," RMC commissioner Banchha Nidhi Pani said.
"If all goes well, we expect the project to complete in five years. It will solve major traffic problem of the city. People from eastern part of the city can easily come to western part without crossing the central part of the city. This will ease traffic burden in central part, which is the most busiest area," Pani said.
According to project plan, the 11-km stretch starting from Aji-1 dam to Aji-2 dam passing through Bedi village to New Ring Road will be developed as riverfront. The width of the river, which currently varies from 80 m to 150 m, will be reduced to 70 m. Since drains from all over the city opens into river Aji, 36 drainage interceptor sewers will be built. Further, RMC needs to demolish encroachment on the riverbank and construct few check dams for water recharging.
Project consultant — Ahmedabad-based HCP Design Planning and Management Private Limited — has suggested renovation of the old railway bridge, which comes in the route of the riverfront. Both sides of the riverfront will be developed at a cost of Rs 701 crore. RMC has presented this project report for the approval of State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC).