Ghats along Yamuna to be restored to their original design

The plan is to restore the ghats on the lines of their original design, and also put in place facilities such as cycling tracks, pedestrian pathways.
A view of polluted Yamuna river at Majnu-ka-Tila in New Delhi on Sunday. (Amal K S/HT photo)
A view of polluted Yamuna river at Majnu-ka-Tila in New Delhi on Sunday. (Amal K S/HT photo)
Updated on Nov 08, 2021 03:24 AM IST
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ByRisha Chitlangia, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has prepared a detailed plan to redevelop a 7km-long stretch of historical importance along the Yamuna. The plan is to restore the ghats on the lines of their original design, and also put in place facilities such as cycling tracks, pedestrian pathways.

The stretch, located between Old Iron Bridge and Signature Bridge, has been divided into four zones: Surghat, Majnu Ka Tila and forest area, Qudsia Ghat and Yamuna Bazaar.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) has prepared the redevelopment plan for the entire stretch, and is at work on a pilot revamp at Qudsia Ghat.

A senior DDA official said, “We decided to rope Intach in keeping the historical and cultural significance of this area in mind. The idea is to make the riverfront more accessible to people.”

DDA approved a proposal to restore and redevelop Qudsia Ghat in December last year.

Divay Gupta, principal director of Intach’s architectural heritage division, said, “During excavations at the site for a survey, we uncovered 14 ghats that were covered in silt or sand. These ghats, which are not very large, were built by families in memory of their relatives... We plan to restore these ghats as per the original architecture,” said Gupta.

The restoration of Qudsia Ghat, which started in mid-October and will around 16 crore, will be completed within nine months, said Gupta. The DDA plans to develop a 3km-long cycling track, a pedestrian walkway, toilets and parking spaces at the ghat.

Gupta said a few ghats near the Old Iron Bridge were a part of Shahjahanabad.

“We have some old photographs of the ghats, so the areas between the two bridges will be recreating using these as references,” said Gupta.

Located along Ring Road, the area has 32 contiguous ghats, which are used for religious activities till this day.

Rakesh Sharma, who owns a house in Yamuna Bazaar and is a member of the Yamuna Bazaar Priests Association, said, “A lot of people visit for a holy dip and prayers during festivals and other religious occasions. But the area is in a mess. There is a drainage problem here, and the ghats desperately need to be repaired and maintained.”

DDA officials said that though it is called a “bazaar” (marketplace), the area has a series of old temples. The plan is to restore ghats and the structures using traditional material and techniques. “The additional structures that are obstructing the continuity of the ghats will be removed, missing damaged ghats will be restored, facilities such as toilet blocks etc will be built,” said a DDA official.

As part of the restoration project, the DDA has decided to remove the hard landscaping at Sur ghat, in accordance with recommendations of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

“We will take up the restoration of the other three areas after the pilot project is complete. As part of the project, we plan to develop continuous cycling tracks with docks and pedestrian tracks for seamless connectivity among the sites,” said a senior DDA official aware of the development.

The DDA is redeveloping the 54km-long riverfront, in a bid to improve the area’s accessibility and to check the Yamuna floodplain’s dying ecosystem.

The plan was conceived after a 2015 NGT order.

Manoj Misra, convenor of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said, “The NGT has not prohibited redevelopment or restoration of historic ghats. The proposed redevelopment should be able to take inundation during the flood period and shouldn’t prevent spread of floodwater. There are specific orders for Sur Ghat that it should be demolished and redone in a natural manner.”

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Sunday, November 28, 2021