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Saturday, 31 March 2012

10 Sursagars disappeared from city's face

Sachin Sharma, TNN | Mar 29, 2012,

 VADODARA: Amid the hype around the cleaning and beautification of Sursagar, the authorities could probably sit up and take notice of this - the core area of the city has lost 13 ponds since 1886 and the size of most existing ones has been reduced significantly. A study conducted by a city-based architect had revealed this way back in 2008.

The study reveals that the map of the city drawn between 1884 and 1886 showed 30 water bodies across the town. The water bodies had a surface area of approximately 150 acres that would amount to nearly 10 Sursagars. The water bodies' surface area nearly amounted to 20 per cent of the area of the city, says architect Sanjiv Joshi who conducted the study 'Vanishing Water Scapes'. Joshi is also the state co-convener of the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

Joshi's study also reveals the 13 water bodies that vanished from the city's surface had an area of approximately 25 acres. Joshi says that the total area of the water bodies today was in the tune of only 92 acres. Barring two cases of Sursagar and Siddnath ponds, the surface area of water bodies had shrunk as compared to 1886.

The study says that when the city moved away from Vadpatraka to the present walled city, one of the major reasons besides a secure elevation was the string of water bodies that existed in the area. It adds that these water bodies became an integral of the city fabric. At some stage these were also networked.

Joshi said that the preservation of water bodies was must as they acted as giant water harvesters.

"Depleting ground water levels are a serious issue. The water bodies ensure that ground water is recharged and less energy is spent on drawing water from tube wells," Joshi said. The water bodies also enable trees and vegetation to flourish around them.

The study has suggested that the Vadodara Municipal Corporation and Vadodara Urban Development Authority need to play a proactive role and also need to be held accountable. It adds that a mechanism needed to be created at a neighbourhood community level to ensure their involvement and creating a sense of ownership.

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