At a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Friday, the state government has decided to “chalk out a comprehensive plan for holistic development of the entire river area of Vishwamitri River, from its origin at Pavagadh to its amalgamation with Gulf of Khambhat”, in order to mitigate the flood risk to Vadodara city and neighbouring areas, every monsoon.
The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), which will now invite an agency to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR), says that the plan is to develop an eco-friendly plan which is entirely different from the Vishwamitri Riverfront project of the civic body that has been in cold storage for over a decade.
A government release said, “The Chief Minister emphasised that it is very essential to chalk out a comprehensive plan for Vishwamitri river to prevent the adverse effect on life of people of Vadodara city, caused by the occurrence of floods every year. In this reference, Mr. Rupani suggested to the administrators and officials of VMC that the plan should ensure that water flow continues in the Vishwamitri river during all 12 months of the year to enhance the beauty and green cover in Vadodara city.”
This year, Vadodara city witnessed flooding for over seven days — from July 31, and again in mid-August — due to the swelling of the Vishwamitri river following heavy rain in the catchment areas of Halol taluka in the Panchmahals. According to the VMC Commissioner NB Upadhyay, the plan includes four districts — Panchmahals, Vadodara, Bharuch and Anand — through which the river flows.
Upadhyay told this newspaper, “The project is much needed to resolve the issue of monsoon flooding in the city of Vadodara. It will take care of the entire route of the Vishwamitri river, right from Pavagadh to Khambat, whereas the Vishwamitri Riverfront project was only dealing with a small part of the city area where the river flows. This project will need a committee to bring together the districts of Panchmahals, Vadodara, Bharuch and also Anand as well as the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) to work in coordination. The VMC will invite agency to prepare the DPR and the state government will be extremely involved in the details. The government especially wants to ensure that the river has water throughout the year and also develop organic farming along its banks.”
Earlier in August, after Vadodara witnessed heavy water logging in the entire city, with air traffic and railways disrupted and power cut in most parts of the city for over five days, Rupani had visited the city and announced that the government would work on the Vishwamitri project.
The release on Friday, further stated, “The project should turn out to be a role model in the country with its holistic approach and also be curbing the menace of yearly flood. The DPR should be sent to the Central Government for its assistance with sharing ratio of 60-40% between Centre and State.”
The meeting included VMC Mayor, Dr. Jigishaben Seth; Advisor to Chief Minister (Water Resources), BN Navlawala; Chief Principal Secretary to CM, K Kailashnathan; Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development), Mukesh Puri; Principal Secretary to CM, MK Das, who has also served as a VMC Commissioner earlier, and Chairman of Community Science Centre, Vadodara, Dr. MH Mehta.