The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation sets aside Rs.1,400 crore for the rejuvenation of Mumbai’s rivers

Published : March 04, 2021 10:58 IST

Floods in the Mithi river during the unusually heavy monsoon rainfall in August 2019. Photo: BRYAN DENTON/NYT

One of the lesser-known treasures of Mumbai are its rivers. The average citizen realised this in the cloudburst of 2005. These rivers, which until then had been thought of as large drains, could have served as natural drainage systems for the huge amount of rainfall the city received then, but they were silted, dammed, diverted and could not serve their natural purpose as safety valves.

More than 1,000 lives were lost in that freak weather incident and many could have been saved if the rivers had not been interfered with. On the island of Mumbai, the rivers act as natural balances of the water system. Sadly, slums have grown all along the rivers and they serve as the repository of industrial effluence and human waste.

But, there’s hope for them now. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has set aside Rs.1,400 crore in its budget for the rejuvenation and beautification of Dahisar, Poisar and Oshiwara (or Walbhat) rivers.

Four firms have bid for executing the projects, but the process of awarding the contracts is yet to be completed. The work is estimated to take three years—an indication of just how degraded the rivers and their surrounding ecosystems have become.

The contractors will be expected to widen the rivers; curb pollution; improve the water quality; create a sewer network so that the river is not used as one; build a surrounding support system of access roads; desilt the rivers; and create recreational and tourist facilities along the banks. While the BMC did demolish illegal slums and industries along the banks of some of the rivers last year, the main body of the project will be carried out by private firms.

The Mithi river will receive special treatment because it has received a high level of abuse. It has a separate budget of Rs. 569.52 crore. Some of the proposals including constructing separate sewer lines, widening the river to ease the flow and opening up the blockages that had practically made the Mithi disappear.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
×