Noting that viral infections have risen to “epidemic proportions” in the city, the Bombay High Court Thursday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority to jointly take immediate measures to address the problem. A division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Atal Dubey, seeking that the civic authorities be asked to take necessary steps to tackle drainage problems and waterlogging in the city every monsoon, which has led to the deplorable condition of the city’s rivers.
The petitioners told the court that after the July 2005 deluge, authorities had carried out dredging and rock excavation at the Mithi river, but as per a report by expert body National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, several tonnes of raw sewage is still dumped into the river “on a daily basis. “
They added that as per the report, the “original depth of the Mithi river was 16 feet but now the depth is less than 7 feet because of constant dumping of raw, untreated sewage.”
At this, the bench observed that the situation indeed was alarming. “The authorities are not complying with the statutory provisions of treating sewage before dumping, leading to the deplorable condition of the rivers in Mumbai. This leads to drainage issues and waterlogging, which further causes viral diseases like dengue and chikungunya which are on the rise,” it said.
The court said that this is a dangerous situation. “All authorities concerned have to sit together and find a solution. This is not the time to fight over jurisdiction. It is a matter of serious concern,” Justice Kanade said, and directed agencies such as the BMC and the MMRDA to take “immediate measures” to clean the rivers. The bodies are to consider recommendations made in the NEERI report and implement those on a “war-footing basis.”
The matter is likely to be heard next on October 5.