The BMC is planning to spend Rs 569.52 crore to clean up Mithi river. Under the civic body’s ambitious ‘Mithi River Rejuvenation’ plan, widening and deepening work will also be carried out at the river.
The Shiv Sena-led BMC Standing Committee on Wednesday cleared four proposals related to the project. According to the proposals, while sewer lines will be laid along the river to stop sewage entering into it, the flow of the river will be managed by widening and deepening it and also by constructing reinforced cement concrete protection wall and a service road. These works will be executed between the airport taxiway bridge in Kurla, Ashok Nagar in Andheri, MTNL Junction at BKC and Filterpada at the Powai stretch of the river.
Over the years, the water quality of Mithi has deteriorated with slums and industrial units, which have come up on its bank, discharging sewage and industrial waste directly into it. In 2019, the water in the river was found to have the presence of fecal coliform bacteria 15 times higher than the standard limit.
Starting from Virar Lake, the 17.8-km Mithi River ends in the Arabian Sea at Mahim creek. While 11.84 km of it falls under the jurisdiction of BMC, the rest is under the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
Money down the drain
In the last 13 years, the BMC had spent Rs 1,400 crore on cleaning, widening and deepening Mithi River but with little impact. Mithi's plight came to light after the July 26, 2005 deluge in Mumbai. A fact-finding committee set up by the state government to find out the reasons behind the deluge had also blamed encroachment on Mithi and suggested its restoration. Since then BMC and MMRDA had both spent a lot of money on projects related to Mithi.
Interestingly, all four companies have bagged contracts for the proposals above the estimates of BMC. This is unusual, as in case of majority of BMC projects, the bidders offer to carry out the work in less than the civic body’s estimate. The BMC is paying 17 per cent to 22 per cent higher than the original estimate prepared by its storm water department, said officials.
BMC officials said that the cost has increased due to the adverse condition of the site where the work will take place. “There are slums on the river bank where work of deepening will take place. Due to slums, there is no space to keep rocks that are removed from the river bed. The contractor will have to deploy machines daily to transport these rocks to the designated dumping place and also construct an approach road to reach the site. Further, encroachment could delay the work,” said an official.
Since April, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has also been imposing a fine of Rs 10 lakh every month on BMC for not implementing the time-bound plan for the rejuvenation of the river, the official added.
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