Monday, March 7, 2011

Waterless boating?

The earthy colored complex of Sarkhej Roza at Ahmedabad generally covered by a people like photographers, architecture students or historians, will now be seen overflowing with ‘aam admi’. They will admire the beauty of the monument sitting in bright colored boats, relishing sev puris and Pani Puris at the laari walas. This imperial necropolis is soon to undergo a face lift .So where is the problem? Well, the facelift will be seen in the form of boating activities in Ahmedsar Lake; the dry water body of Sarkhej Roza complex.

Covering a huge area of 50,000 sq.mts, Ahmedsar Lake or this water body requires a minimum of two crore gallons of water to be filled. This has not been available over last few years because of the insufficient rainfall. In spite of being aware of the present condition of the lake which houses nothing but plastic waste, the authorities of Sarkhej Roza seem quite convinced by their decision. Also, the boom in the real estate market has suddenly sprouted to a rash of high rise apartments and offices in the vicinity of the lake resulting in blockage of adjoining water catchment areas. Ironically, amongst these buildings stands one of the biggest media houses of Gujarat which is publicizing the ‘heritage’ of Sarkhej Roza!

Earlier the water of the lake was so clean that it was used for waju by the worshippers. Today, the lake is in a deteriorated state. “It is the work of AUDA (Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority) and AMC (Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation) to take care of the plastic wastes”, informs Mr. Qadri, member of Sarkhej Roza Committee when asked about the planned boating activities in the lake. The boating activities will definitely increase the visitors to the monument but success cannot be evaluated only through quantity. “Does large number of people flocking to a place make it successful; yes at some level it does. But one also needs to understand what it does to that place. What kind of urbanity are we talking about here?” exclaimed Aniket Bhagwat; city based Landscape Architect when asked about his opinion about the new ‘development’ of Ahmedsar Lake.

In addition to this, some of the part of the lake would also get converted into a wetland. “Inspite of nothing being done for the lake, there are a lot of migratory birds migrating to the lake every year. We would not want to destroy that. We have been trying to get into discussions with expert as to how we can develop this into a wetland,” informed Bhavna Ramrakhiani, a city based social activist when asked about the upliftment.

So one is still skeptical as to how these distinct activities will simultaneously work together. It seems that boating is the only easy option left with the authorities to develop the water body.

Looking at the present scenario of the lake, even Ganj Baksh Khattu, Sufi Saint to which Sarkhej Roza monument is dedicated, resting in his mausoleum would laugh at the Sultans of Gujarat who had built a pleasure palace on the lake bank to enjoy the summers.

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