Ahmedabad: BB&CI and the physical transformation – Slums 4

With a lack in maps or information regarding the physical aesthetics of pre-colonial Ahmedabad, the indicators of the causation and effect of British colonisation can only be drawn from statistics of a later date and compared with the original consensus. In addition to the economical effect initiated by the introduction of the Bombay, Baroda and Central Indian Railway, the impact can also be mapped by the demographic. Mapping simply the housing units, the railway has arguably generated poverty and slum areas that can be split into chawls and defined slums. Over 75% of chawls (the residential units for the lower income sector, typically multi-storey concrete units built in the mills) and over 45 % of the official slums (illegal poorer housing units) are situated in the eastern area, which is where the railway is located; this is by far more than any other area and could be seen as the direct effect of the BB&CI.

Demographic data of slum area
Demographic data of slum area
Interventions in Development: A shift towards a Model of Exclusion © 2002, Mahadevia, Darshin

The BB&CI not only transformed Ahmedabad at a larger citywide scale, but also at street scale which is a two part process. As previously mentioned, the establishment of the railway brought with it connectivity and also an increase in population in the form of migrants. This then caused an over abundance of inhabitants, and inhabitants who incidentally have the tendancy of grouping together, and thus poor condition housing is formed in several areas. Possibly what will later become one of the predominant slum areas in the periphery of the city is in fact caused by what is highlighted in the Total Station Survey since Area III in the Social Variable table is located beside this. Area III is deemed the “Near-Periphery Area” by Tewari, and is the Mill Area and later one of the slum areas just outside the Walled City.

Total Station Survey, with records of all physical features on the ground
Total Station Survey, with records of all physical features on the ground
Survey of the area for preparing the Town Planning Scheme © 2008, Shirley Ballaney

Existing Residential Units (Left) vs. Chawls (top right) / Slum area (bottom right)

Existing Residential Units (Left) vs. Chawls (top right) / Slum area (bottom right)

 

Through comparisons of the original city map, and the map, it is clear how much the process of modernisation, urbanisation, and industrialisation has changed the city of Ahemdabad; a city that originally had difference in scale, hierarchy, direction and flow has changed into what is now reminiscent of a grid plan. that is shaped for efficiency and density. The city seems to have lost its identity, and it is clear how the change is a decline in quality.

citycenter map
Old city center map of Ahmedabad
Map of the city centre © 1970, Shraddha Sejpal
1970 City Map of Ahmedabad Urban form in Ahmedabad © 1970, The South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal
1970 City Map of Ahmedabad
Urban form in Ahmedabad @ 1970, The South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal

 

 

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