September 10, 2012 12:48:41 am
It is not just the Mithi river that is susceptible to degradation due to encroachment and dumping. There are at least two more rivers and six natural drains in the city that are highly vulnerable and in need of immediate attention,as per a recent study funded by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
These are the Oshiwara river,Poisar river,Vikhroli nullah,Mogra nullah,Tilak Nagar nullah,Piramal Nagar nullah,Irla nullah and Safed Pul nullah and are part of the five rivers and 19 natural drains in the city. According to the study,the Dahisar river also needs attention but is not as critical as the others. Similarly,the Mahul river is not very vulnerable to damage but needs regular maintenance.
We are facing an environment crisis. Secondly,there is this whole concept of environment as an enterprise that can add economic value in terms of tourism. If we dont think of these water courses seriously,not only will they hit back at us,we will also lose their potential economic value, said Prasad Shetty,secretary of the MMRDAs MMR-Environment Improvement Society.
The Oshiwara river,the longest and the narrowest of the citys five rivers,is in the worst condition. There are around 170 industrial,commercial and slum outlets along the length of the river that bring in untreated waste. Also,a huge quantity of cow dung and hay generated from the Aarey Milk Colony and surrounding tabelas is dumped in the river. The water is sludgy,has suspended solid waste and releases a pungent odour.
The study rates Poisar river,the shortest of the five,as the third worst in the city with Mithi being the second. The river is also brown to black with oil and grease at its surface. Slum encroachment is high towards the beginning and the middle portion of the river,leading to dumping of a high quantity of solid waste.
Among the natural drains,the Vikhroli,Mogra and Tilak Nagar nullah are the worst. The 4.3-km Vikhroli nullah,which has three subsidiary drains,is surrounded by 15 slums and about six per cent of area along the drain is in industrial use by Mansukh Dyeing,Crompton Greaves,Echjay Forgings Industries. Water along this stretch is stagnant and loaded with garbage. Though the Mogra nullah hardly has any encroachments along its length,it passes through a highly developed area where a cluster of around 80 residential buildings use it as their private dump. The nullah also passes through commercial areas where it is choked up by plastic,thermocol and cloth.
The first imperative task at hand is to undertake occasional cleaning of these water courses. This can be taken up in Poisar and Oshiwara rivers on a priority basis as substantial work in the Mithi river has already been completed at many locations and the results are visible, the study said,added widening and strengthening work can be taken up eventually.
To revive the water courses the study recommends widening,edge definition and strengthening,cleaning,construction of new roads,creation of promenades,removal of encroachments,slum improvements,new sewer lines,afforestation,restoration of mangroves and proper land use so as to not damage the river.
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