Keshav Varma, who took charge as the chairman of Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) on Monday, said that efforts will be made to create a “world-class” ecosystem at Sabarmati Riverfront to attract investors and real estate developers.
“We are sure that with the world-class development, the value of these plots will automatically go up. The idea is to create a great infrastructure, environment and develop a traffic system and bring in highest quality of planners to create an inclusive development which is environmentally and socially pleasant. Residents should not be secluded from the river with this development. Also, we need to study the real estate market trends and competitive environment, undertake economic studies and global research before creating a demand for the land around the riverfront,” Varma told mediapersons after taking charge.
With the development of the Sabarmati Riverfront, then chief minister Narendra Modi’s pet project, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) was certain to receive high and a regular flow of finances covering up the project cost and even turning into profit-making venture through sale of land along the riverfront. However, despite several attempts, the SRFDCL has failed to find takers for the prime land parcels on the Sabarmati Riverfront. Sources said that the mismatch between the prices sought and the market price was among one of the reasons for the plots not getting buyers. While, initially the slow real estate market was blamed for this, it seems now that the AMC has realised that it first needs to develop the area and deal with basic issues like unclean water in order to attract investors.
Verma exuded confidence that with the development of the riverfront and redevelopment of Ahmedabad, investors would approach the SRFDCL to buy the plots rather than them reaching out to sell the land parcels.
Varma, who was commissioner of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation from 1994-97 and is credited to bringing a turnaround in the civic body’s finances, said that his first priority will be to clean the Sabarmati river. “The current scenario of dumping industrial refuse and sewage water in the Sabarmati has to be dealt with. The solid waste management system has to be of best quality, operations and maintenance need to be taken care of. There are several latest methods of cleaning water like microbes which have proved effective. We are exploring ways to deal with this issue,” he said, adding that it is “not an easy but a complex job”.
Varma, who has also done a long stint in the World Bank as director of Urban, Water and Disaster management, East Asia and the Pacific Region, said that his focus would also be on issues faced by pedestrians. “We have to plan healthy cities so that people could walk. But unfortunately, the city planning is based on cars these days despite the vehicles are owned by only 5 to 7 per cent of people,” said Varma, who as AMC commissioner had executed some of the major capital projects that got the city the ‘mega city’ tag.