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The Concrete Rivers of Mumbai

Monday, March 20, 2017
By Sonali Telang

The ongoing construction work of a compound wall across Oshiwara River has reminded the activists of the Poisar and Dahisar rivers whose river beds have been turned into concrete bases by the BMC recently. The rivers of Mumbai are slowly headed to concretization. It is no wonder the younger generation refer to them as ‘nullahs’

Ahead of the monsoon season, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is on a concretization spree for all four rivers of the city. While several citizens along with activists raised concerns over the ongoing concretization of Poisar River, a new concrete wall was seen half built in the stream of Oshiwara River in Nagri Niwara Parishad(NNP) area leaving behind a pile of debris all over the river.

"We are building retaining wall to widen the riverbed. The old walls are weak so we have to replace them. The debris will be there for some time to move machines into the area, though we will clean the area up before the monsoon," said Laxman Vhatkar, Chief Engineer, Storm Water Drain Management, BMC.

However, activists fear that the contrary is happening in the garb of concretising the walls. The wall is being created between the big stretch of the river which is now filled with debris and stones and mud. It seems that in one place they are trying to create a diversion or reduce the size of the river," said Atul Vaidya, Member of River March.

Earlier this month, Afternoon D&C has reported that a stream of Poisar river near Thakur Complex in Kandivali is being subjected to concretization wherein the walls were plastered and to activists fear, the river bed was concretised. "Right now, the BMC is concretising the boundary walls of Oshiwara River in the NNP area. We hope they don't concretise the river bed also, as the ongoing work looks like a preceding to it. They have already concretized the river bed of Poisar and Dahisar river. Once you concretise the bottom of the river, it becomes a nullah," said Biju Augustine, citizen and activist.

Activists from River March have decided to protest about the ongoing concretization of Oshiwara River in the coming days. "The concretization of Oshiwara river's bed has been done in the past also which resulted in flooding the nearby slum dwellers during Monsoon season. One of the parts of the stretch has already been blocked by the IT park. During monsoons, the stretch gets filled with rain water, which does not get a route flow, thereby resulting in a flood. We fear that if they concretise it again, it will be life threatening," added Atul Vaidya.

Amid this, River March has started an online petition #SaveMumbaiRivers to raise awareness about the four rivers of the city- Dahisar, Poisar, Oshiwara and Mithi which are on the verge of dying. The online petition, directed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis, seeks the authorities' attention to the immediate need of rejuvenating these rivers.

  • Rivers in Mumbai are dying. Let's rejuvenate them and #SaveMumbaiRivers
  • Sign the petition- '#SaveMumbaiRivers'
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