In recent years, a new generation of river-related developmental projects has received a strong push from central and state governments. After dubious claims of success in riverfront development projects on the Sabarmati river, the policymakers are now ready with recommendations for urban river management and rejuvenation of urban stretches of rivers across India including Ganga, Brahmaputra, Yamuna, Narmada, Cauvery, Godavari and even smaller rivers such as Mithi, Kanh, Mandovi. The major rationale is given in support of riverfront development projects is to beautify and rejuvenate the rivers.
Patna Riverfront development is one such attempt to “beautify” the Ganga. This project affirms the view that the development of riverfronts is meant for the appropriation of common spaces for rather exclusionary spaces of recreation and enjoyment, while there are also very high environmental and social costs associated. It is poised to cause severe harm to the local ecology and bring changes in the regional hydrological cycles and thus ultimately affecting communities dependent on various riverine and common resources.
This report is based on exploratory field visits conducted in Patna in January 2021 as part of our ongoing research on urban riverfront development in Patna and other parts of India. The aim of the ongoing study is to understand the social and environmental impact of the riverfront development and other large infrastructure projects which have been planned on the banks of the river Ganga in and around Patna.
We hope that this publication will bring attention to the seriousness of risks posed by riverfront development and other mega infrastructure projects on rivers across India. To that end, we are also planning to bring a Hindi version of this report. We hope that the knowledge collected in this report will help bring more attention to the Patna riverfront and contribute to the larger discourse on how such projects may end up aggravating resource grab, commercialization, and privatization of shared resources.