A Motley group of citizens and environmentalists are planning a Mithi Sansad or a river parliament to revive the Mithi, the beleaguered key storm water drainage system of the city.
Various non-governmental organisations of the city on Sunday took out a yatra along the river; under the leadership of Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh, also known as the “waterman of India.” The purpose of the yatra was to learn the extent of abuse the Mithi has suffered and also to learn a lesson or two about water and river management. The yatra started off from Powai, went through the Air India colony in Kalina, Vakola Nullah and culminated at Koliwada, Mahim Causeway, where the river meets the bay.
Taking a cue from Singh, who formed a river parliament and brought to life seven “dead” rivers in Rajasthan way back in 1985, the group wants to replicate the same model in the city.
“Development has brought about many environmental problems to Mumbai. Thousands of mangroves have been destroyed. These were the main deterrents to air and water pollution, flooding and climate change the city is facing now,” Singh said.
The group stressed that any development should go hand in hand with the laws of nature. “We encourage development of all kind but we want to conform to laws of nature. This would be the guiding objective of the Mithi Sansad,” said environmentalist Janak Daftari.
“We have been working for the Mithi for a decade now. After studying the Rajasthan model we are sure we can also bring about a change,” said Rishi Aggrawal, joint secretary of the Mangrove Society of India, Mumbai chapter.
“We will encourage environmentalists and people who live around the Mithi to come together and be a part of this sansad. People living near the river help us understand the bio-diversity of the area,” said Aggarwal. The Sansad’s other two tasks are to pool in a group of alternative experts who will suggest measures on how to control flooding in the city with minimum money, and to come up with environment-friendly methods to save the river.
The Mithi Sansad will be formed by next month. The sansad will have 50 to 200 members initially. “After we see how well we can execute our plans, we will invite more people to the sansad,” said Aggarwal.
POOL OF THOUGHT
* TARUN BHAGAT SANGH formed 1985 by Rajendra Singh.
* JOHAD PRINCIPLE revived in Alwar district of Rajasthan. A johad is a concave structure that collects and store water throughout the year. It is used for the drinking purpose by humans and cattle.
* OVER 4,500 working johads in Alwar and surrounding districts today.
* NEXT STEP to revive Mithi by bringing back the ponds. Singh says, “Ponds are usually filled up because people think they are the root cause of all diseases. But this is not true; they give any river its perennial nature and controls floods. Only after sorting this out can we have a long-term plan.”