Mithi river, much abused by encroachment and pollution, is set to receive a fresh lease of life. In a bid to revive Mithi’s pristine glory, a group of environmentalists from the city, inspired by Magsaysay Award-winning conservationist, Rajendra Singh, formed a core group, christened Mithi Sansad, with 60 members and a five-member coordination committee, for the purpose.
Rajendra Singh was in the city on Sunday to participate in Mithi River Yatra, jointly organised by various non-government organisations (NGOs) and Kirti College, Dadar.
“Mumbaikars were not aware of floods and its dire consequences until July, 2005. But today, the situation has completely changed. Everyone is scared to the core and wants a permanent solution to the problem,” Singh said.
Singh emphasised that people in the city were not equipped to fight flood and the government was trying to convert the river into a nullah to lessen the responsibility of maintaining the river. “Mithi river, today is dead. Now, it is up to the people whether they want it to remain a river or become a nullah,” he said. Having revived seven dead rivers in Rajasthan, Singh believes the river can still be revived if people forced the government and the local municipal corporation to do so.
According to Singh, Mithi could be revived if all the traditional water bodies in the catchment area of the river were revived, lakes in the area restored and a serious study of the river initiated.
“In 2006, the Supreme Court had passed an order directing all the state governments to remove encroachments on all the water bodies immediately. Any government failing to do this, is liable for action under contempt of court,” he said.
River eco system can play a vital role in protecting a city from natural calamities like floods. “But mindless development has created a barrier between the river ecosystem and the city. I am not against development, but restoration of the eco system should be the prime concern,” Singh said.