River and its City

Continuing the celebration of Godavari Dussehra, let us today explore the ‘River and its City‘ with the case of Godavari and Nashik.

“Throughout the history cities and water [river] have had what amounts to a kind of “love-hate” relationship.” (Feldman 2017: vii)

There is a dialectical relationship between rivers and cities, as the rivers shape the cities viz a viz even cities (re)shape and (re)create riverscape. Cities have controlled, harnessed, and tamed rivers through multiple processes of urbanization. In this article, I have attempted to trace the infrastructural changes in/along the Godavari riverscape in Nashik, since the formation of Municipal Council in 1864.

  • 1874-1901: Construction of Victoria Bridge (now called Ahilyabai Holkar Bridge). Also, in 1895, the city administration laid sewers in the Old Nashik.
  • 1902-1926: As the settlement of Nashik expanded, the need of water increased. Hence, the city administration introduced piped-water system. One pumping station along with two wells in the riverbed were constructed for the storage of water.
  • 1926-1947: The proposal of the construction of Gangapur Dam was accepted and the construction commenced in 1947.
  • 1955-1968: During this period, Nashik underground Drainage Scheme – Part 1 was implemented under which intercepting sewers were laid along the both the banks of the Godavari. In addition, in 1965, the construction of Gangapur Dam was completed.
  • 1988-1995: The State Government began funding the Kumbh Mela in Nashik from 1991. The pilgrim rest-house near the Ramkund and a covered platform (the white chhattri) for the rituals. Also, during this period, Water and Power Consultancy Services Ltd (WAPCOS) was appointed for formulating the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for Underground Sewerage Scheme in the city which was sanctioned in 1994. In 1995, ‘Godavari Action Plan’, along the lines of Ganga Action Plan, was formulated under which several Pumping Stations and Sewage Treatment Plants in the city were designed.
  • 2000-2003: Concretization of the Kunds along the Godavari Ghats was done before the Kumbh Mela of 2003.
  • 2006-2016: A Central Government Scheme called Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) was propounded in 2006. The concept of Godavari Riverfront Development with major projects like Goda Park, Laxman Park were proposed under this scheme in Nashik. Along with this, upgradation of old and construction of new Sewage Treatment Plants and underground storm-water drainage system of was proposed under this scheme. Further, for the Kumbh Mela of 2015 several bridges were constructed over Godavari along with seven bathing ghats.
  • 2016-present: Project Goda is proposed under the country-wide scheme of ‘Smart City’. This project is designed in two phases – the first phase includes conservation of ghats and beatification of ghats, and the second phase includes projects to reduce pollution of the Godavari and its tributaries.

The developing city of Nashik has and is still transforming the Godavari riverscape rapidly. In the midst of these processes of urbanization, the Godavari also has induced changes in the cityscape through either flooding (or more recently urban flooding) or drought.

Finally, I would like to mention a couplet from Gulzar Saheb’s poem titled “मुँह  ही मुँह कुछ बुड़बुड़ करता, बहता रहता है दरिया” (Muttering to himself the river flows along)

मुँह  ही मुँह कुछ बुड़बुड़ करता, बहता रहता है दरिया

छोटी छोटी ख़्वाहिशें है कुछ उसके दिल में …

रेत पे रेंगते रेंगते सारी उम्र कटी है,

पुल पर चढ़ के बहने ख़्वाहिश है  में !

Muttering to himself the river flows along

Some small desires still alive in his heart

An entire life spent slithering along the sand

Now he wants to climb up and flow over the bridge!

(Translated by Pavan K. Varma)

This was the relationship of Godavari and Nashik. Let us meet again tomorrow with a different outlook.

-Shilpa Dahake | Facebook


Feldman, D.L. (2017). The Water Sustainable City.  Cheltenham: Edward Elgar

Nashik Municipal Corporation. 2006. City Development Plan (As per guidelines of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission). Online at http://nashikcorporation.in/public/upload/download/cdp-ch12_Chapter12.pdf

Nashik Municipal Corporation. 2016. The Smart City Challenge: Stage 2. Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. Retrieved from https://smartnet.niua.org/sites/default/files/resources/Nashik_SCP.pdf

Shirwadkar, V. V. 1964. Jivan Ganga: A centenary report of Nashik Municipal Council and City. Nashik: Gaonkari Press.

* The facts and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author.


News Reporter
I am an architect turned anthropologist. After finishing my Masters in Anthropology from University of Pune, I was working with Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune under a project funded by UNICEF and Integrated Child Development Scheme, Government of Maharashtra. During which I was stationed in Nandurbar District of Maharashtra (which is predominantly a tribal region) as a Field Research officer. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate in Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, India. My current research explores the interaction of the cultural-religious, the political-economic and the ecological dimensions of the river in Nashik city in Maharashtra. Broadly, investigating how the multiple perspectives of a natural resource overlap, contradict, challenge and support each other, thus shaping the urban landscape and producing socio-spatial inequalities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.