On 1st March 2015, More than 800 Mumbaiites dedicated their Sunday morning to walk the extra mile for the city’s rivers, literally.
As part of the March Walkatahon, people of all age groups, including 300 school students from Rustomjee school, marched along the 5-km stretch of the Dahisar riverfront to raise awareness about the poor state of the city’s polluted rivers and the need to conserve them.
The walk began from the Rustomjee International School and passed through Dahisar village. “The march was an effort to create awareness among people not to pollute the Dahisar river” said Mahesh Thawani, one of the organisers and member of the River Rejuvenate Regiment.
With most of its stretches now resembling a large, dry drain, the 12-km river originates from the Tulsi Lake near Kanheri caves and empties into the Mira Bhayander creek.
Such has been its degradation over the years that locals seem to have forgotten it was once a river and call it a ‘nullah.’ The waters are dark and stink with sewage, the course is choked with plastic and construction work is going on in various parts of the dried-up river.
Dr Shubha Raul, former mayor of Mumbai, who has been associated with the issue of degradation of rivers for the past 13 years, said: “I had taken samples of all four rivers and submitted it to NEERI [National Environmental Engineering Research Institute]. Their study stated there was very little oxygen and the acid level was too high for any marine life to survive in these rivers.”
Indira Bhende, a 75-year-old pioneer who has been fighting for the river since 1997, said, “I was part of a project that had gone to the MMRDA in 2002 with regard to cleaning up the river, but nothing came of it. Today, I am glad people are taking initiative.”
Dahisar resident Manish Sharma said, “We have only heard stories about how beautiful this river used to be. I am here today because I want to the see the same through my own eyes someday.”
The citizens have decided to continue the river march on an annual basis and the project is aimed at rejuvenating the rivers by 2020.
- 2 Mar 2015
- Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
- HT Correspondent firstname.lastname@example.org