The Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is going ahead to spend Rs 569.02 crore on various projects related to cleaning up the Mithi river in the city. Under the corporation’s ‘Mithi River Rejuvenation’ plan, widening and deepening channel of the river and related works will also be carried out. However, the standing committee of the BMC has cleared as many as four proposals related to the projects on the Mithi river this week.
Among the works being organized on the river are laying along a sewer line into the river which would carry all the sewage which at present gets leaked into the river. The widening and deepening of the river channel have also been proposed in one of the projects, which would make sure a healthy flow of the river. The stretch of the river where these works have been planned to be carried out includes the airport taxiway bridge in Kurla, Ashok Nagar in Andheri, Filterpada at the Powai stretch of the river, and MTNL Junction at BKC.
Discharge of harmful sewage into the river after the setting up of industries and slums on the banks of the rivers is one of the prime reasons for the battered water quality of the river. Only last year, the number of fecal coliform bacteria in the Mithi river was found to be 15 times more than the standard limits.
Originating from the Virar lake, the over 17-km long Mithi river drains into the Arabian sea at Mahim creek and is considered to be the lifeline of Mumbai’s environment by many environmental activists. While about a 12-km stretch of the river comes under the civic body BMC, the rest of it comes under the control of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority. According to a report, more than Rs 1,400 crore of funds has been spent on the restoration of the Mithi river to its natural flow in the past 13 years. However, not much has been achieved by the civic body in these years. The critical role the river plays in the ecosystem of the city came to light in 2005, when the fact-finding commission set up after the 2005 floods blamed encroachment on the bank of the Mithi river as a major reason for the deluge.
Interestingly, the efforts of the civic body appear to be sincere as the BMC is paying the four companies which have bagged the projects more than its estimated budget. All the four companies which have grabbed the contract for these projects will be paid about 17 to 22 percent more than the estimated budget which was prepared by the stormwater department, the officials reported related to the project The officials also said that the budget was allowed to go overboard as the work will be carried out in adverse circumstances and locations.