The River and the City

Contemporary Flows. Fluid Times

Rivers are repositories of culture, memory and myth. They are sites of offerings, of cremation, and of waste. Riverbanks often reflect the current social order of societies and their relationship with the river. For many decades in Delhi, the river was out of sight, as the new imperial city New Delhi was built many miles away from the Yamuna. It automatically became the site for waste, junk, and the poor, all the discards of society. Today the river bank is being reclaimed by high end housing, parks, and recreational areas, as the increasingly populated city has grown back around the river. International capital is driving up land prices as the city reflects the aspirations of the new economically powerful nation state. The complex interdependent systems produced, are robust but also very sensitive, extremely vulnerable to even the minutest changes. For example, if the water temperature changes, the species of fish in it could change, or if the water rises more than it usually does as in estuarine rivers, the nature of the vegetation on its banks edge can change.

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