Ahmedabad/ Old and New Urban Fabrics after the Construction of Railway (1864)
The construction of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CI) under colonial period (1856-1919) marked the opening up of the introverted Ahmedabad to other parts of India, enabling trade and population flow into and out of the city. This has led to the fall of the old Ahmedabad and its associated city mode, as well as the rise of the new Ahmedabad: the reliance on textile industry as the city’s main economy has faded out, as other Indian cities like Bombay has out competed Ahmedabad; and there is a tendency for the city to expand to account for the increased influx of people into the border.
Ahmedabad was no longer a city enclosed to itself, but a city of constant expansion. The way how the BB&CI Railway cuts through the city fabrics has marked the segregation of new and old city fabrics. With the new insertion of the railway, more focuses were put on the new fabrics immediately next to the spine of the railway in search of new economic and social opportunities. New towns and developments were planned around the periphery, and also to the west of the Sabarmati River. As a result the original walled city was left unattended, gradually transformed into slum areas. One saying about the insertion of BB&CI Railway is that it brings forth economic boost and positive city transformation to Ahmedabad, but on the other face, it can be said that the insertion has divided the city from an originally cohesive walled state into a division of new and old fabrics. A separate sense of space has developed, characterized by the notorious walled area which was once the better part of the city.
The uneven and rapid city transformation urged for a compact, squeezed and high density urban form. Dwelling units was cramped together with maze-like circulatory routes. City grid can barely be seen, but an intense demand for space, high-efficiency urban planning scheme.
A. Rajagopal, Urban Segregation and the Special Political Zone in Ahmedabad:An Emerging Paradigm for Religio-Political Violence, The South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, 2011
R.P. Misra, Millions Cities of India Volume I, Sustainable Development Foundation, 1998