Ahmedabad/Planning of the Railway

The narrative Slum and Underdog: the Hidden Face of Urban Transformation has mentioned that the government had not considered the influence that railway would bring to the living conditions of the nearby residents. This is proven by more evidence in this narrative.

In the proposal of a railway from Ahmedabad to Deesa which is part of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway by J.B. Lane, the existing urban fabric and the local residence was not mentioned in the planning of the railway at all. The most important consideration for railway planning is “this I consider of great importance, as the lighter the working expenses the cheaper the haulage, and consequent increase of traffic from being able to extent our influence over a tract of country varying in extent according to the difference between Gari and Railway haulage.”  (J. B. Lane, 1863, in Papers related to Railway Communication between Bombay and the North Western Provinces)

On the other hand, the profit brought to the British Government by the railway is considered. The proposal mentioned that the railway could bring competition to the market, which could possibly improve the production and make more profit: “…and 60 miles by rail to Ahmedabad: within this area(1200 square miles) and nearer to Ahmedabad the profits would be greater and afford more remote competition.”(ibid. p.48)

The route of the railway was planned from the consideration of the maximum curve a railway line can reach. The accessibility to the proposed railway station is also considered. Although no historical document that explained the planning of the Ahmedabad railway station is found, we can assume the reasons it was planned at the east of the old city wall are: 1) The old city was already densely distributed with pols before the introduction of railway. It would take great effort to demolish the pols for railway construction. 2) A river flows along the west side of the old city. If the railway station was planned at west side, it would have lower accessibility to the city.

Painted cloth map of Ahmedabad © 1800s, Vakhatchand Sheth


India publ. works dept. (1865) Papers related to Railway Communication between Bombay and the North Western Provinces. Public Works Department Press.

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