Ahmedabad/ Human Segregation Followed by Infrastructural Transformation
Infrastructure in the city is perceived as sign of prosperity and progression throughout centuries. It somehow holds the power to affect demographics and direct activities of people in the context of a city. One parameter to justify the implementation of infrastructure upon a particular area is the human response towards the issue.
By 1864, the insertion of the BB&CI Railway has been completed and the railway was already put to work. One prominent effect spotted from the implementation is the movement and resettlement of people which follows certain patterns.
Ahmedabad before 1800s existed as a walled city enclosed by pheripheral wall, and areas within the wall are organized in modules of wards. Followed by the boom of housing demands Ahmedabad existed as a growing complex with areas expanding out of the original walled city fabric. The railway was put up at the city in such a stage of development in 1864.
“With the coming of the railway around 1860, development began to spill over (beyond the city-limits) towards the northwest and southwest of the walled city.” (EuroIndia Centre, 2006) Immediately after the putting up of the railway there was an increase in the overall population density due to the increased accessibility and economic opportunity in the area. However, population seemed to accumulate closely around the riverside in the west in pursuit of better living quality. And residents in the walled city tended to reside out of the peripheral wall “due to commercialization of Ahmedabad as well as due to repeated communal violence in the area” (EuroIndia Centre, 2006). so with the construction of infrastructure and opening up, it was believed that it triggered the relocation of people. Moreover, to the east of the area where the train track was located, population density significantly decreased due to the operation of trains which posed certain disturbances to the surrounding area.
One interesting thing to note is that a higher concentration of people has been observed in the fringe area of the peripheral wall right after the construction of the railway. This phenomenon was partly due to the fact that railway network inserted into the existing fabrics, which brought in a reverse growth back to the original fabrics. The tension created between the outward expansion of the city and the reverse influx of growth has created the narrow community form in the fringe area, for citizens who could not afford to relocate to other areas. As city progressed, the walled city became slum areas without proper governance, while the new fabrics under expansion shared a new upper middle class of community. And among the two extremes, there existed a gap community which shared the burden posted from the two sides. As such, the collision between the new and old has in fact deformed the city’s social structure and urban fabrics.
It has to say that for every large-scale reformation of a city, there is no guarantee for a clearer resolution of urban issues. Ahmedabad is one of the examples in which the city was broken down in pursuit for progression.
Ahmedabad City, the Euro India Centre, 2006 Available from: http://www.the-euroindia-centre.org/pdf/AHMEDABAD%20CITY-%20Note.pdf
R.P. Misra, Millions Cities of India Volume I, Sustainable Development Foundation, 1998