Originating from the Lower Himalayas, the Yamuna River, the largest tributary of the Ganges, is a vital resource for the rapidly growing capital city of New Delhi. The Yamuna supplies the city of New Delhi with much of its drinking water, channeled from the river by a network of pipes at the Wazirabad barrage. Within the space of a few kilometers, so much untreated sewage and other toxic effluent are dumped into the Yamuna that the water is rendered “dead,” posing serious health hazards to the citizenry of New Delhi. Teeming with a rapidly increasing population and a fraying network of urban infrastructure, New Delhi has severed all spatial links to the Yamuna.
The Yamuna River Project is a multi-year research collaboration between the Delhi Jal Board and the University of Virginia. The Yamuna River Project capitalizes on current conversations within the government to place riverfront restoration and development at the forefront of national consciousness. This research and vision exercise is based upon a collaborative methodology intended to facilitate a wide-ranging discourse, resulting in a series of multi-disciplinary solutions to restore the ecological and urban health of the Yamuna River.
The rapid urbanization of New Delhi, coupled with the absence of planning strategies along the Yamuna River, has resulted in a ecological emergency for the city. Following the MoU signed between the Delhi Jal Board and the University of Virginia, faculty and students from the University have proposed a detailed series of restoration visions for the 58-kilometer length of the Najafgarh Drain—the single largest point source of pollution for the Yamuna River. Working across the disciplines of architecture, urban design, environmental science, public health, government and politics, art history, and management, members of the University of Virginia community have collaborated with the team from the Delhi Jal Board, led by Keshav Chandra, imagining a future of ecological prosperity for this vital section of the capital city.
Led by professor Inaki Alday and professor Pankaj Vir Gupta, faculty at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, the multidisciplinary teams have proposed designs for the Najafgarh Drain, facilitating access to improved mobility within the city, revitalization and public access to the culturally and ecologically vital Najafgarh Drain linking to the Yamuna River, improved infrastructure, access to sustainable sources of potable water, improved air quality, and linking of archeological sites flanking the river’s western edge. The resultant design propositions propose a series of site-specific speculations, re-establishing the Yamuna River as a geographical center vital to the existence of the citizens of New Delhi.
This exhibition, composed of carefully researched site studies and articulate graphic illustrations, strives to rekindle the urban vitality and environmental dividend that accrues from the restoration of the Yamuna River in New Delhi.