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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Vadodara's ponds awed master town planner a century ago

Sachin Sharma, TNN | Mar 30, 2012,

 Vadodara: While the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) may have made announcements regarding the upkeep and development of ponds in the city only recently, Patrick Geddes - often called the father of modern town planning - who prepared a detailed plan for the city realized their potential and importance almost a century back.

He had even called these water bodies amongst the finest tank park systems in the world. Geddes was invited to the city by the visionary Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III after a dreadful plague and a famine made a major urban transformation must at the beginning of the last century.

Geddes came to the city on two occasions in 1915 and formed his report titled 'A Report on the Development and Expansion on the city of Baroda'. Geddes was a world renowned figure then and had travelled extensively in India.

Geddes brought his theory of 'Diagnostic Surveys' to identify its problems and suggested his formula of 'Conservative Surgery' for works on the city. His ideas were incorporated in the programs of the Baroda City Improvement Trust that was operational from 1910 to 1925.

Referring to the series of ponds or tanks in the city, Geddes had said in the beginning of his report, "At the very onset of this report we urge the careful preservation of this fine chain."

Geddes who referred to the chain as tank parks added that the chain could produce one of the most extensive tank parks in India and that these were not only the oldest, but amongst the finest park systems of the whole world.

Gujarat co-coordinator for the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and architect Sanjeev Joshi who has studied the report extensively said that Geddes was looking at the entire system of ponds and not each of them individually. "He had suggested that an excellent avenue, boulevard and tank park system could be provided at little expense. He has mentioned the names of several ponds as those having ample water, but we do not see them any more," he said.

Geddes mentions that if the plan of making a 'Ring Park System' of tanks was implemented it would ensure the city's beauty. He has added that it would help to maintain its health for all time coming as well. "He was clearly in awe with the ponds of the city and round them as one of the unique features of the city," Joshi said.

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