Our rivers are dying. And while none of us is stranger to this harsh reality, several organisations and institutions are joining hands to breathe new life into them.
In a similar initiative on National River Day on November 28, the Pune Municipal Corporation pledged to dedicate one day a week for a year to clean the rivers of Mula and Mutha.
According to an NDTV report, the civic body will take up dedicated cleaning initiatives to clean riverbeds.
The first such clean-up drive was kickstarted on November 25, at the Sidheshwar Ghat on Mutha river, where even Mayor Mukta Tilak, along with Pune Municipal Corporation officials, took part.
Speaking to the publication, Mayor Mukta Tilak, said, “Through the cleaning initiative, we plan to tackle various parameters such as the clean-up of riverbeds to get rivers flowing naturally; secondly, to educate Puneites to stop throwing the waste in these rivers and actually start taking care of them; and lastly, to make these rivers sewage-free and toxin-free.”
According to the Environment Status Report (ESR) 2017-2018, published by the Pune Municipal Corporation, the Mula-Mutha is one of the most polluted rivers in Maharashtra.
The contamination is reported to be a result of untreated sewage and industrial waste, which in turn, has led to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the river water. If this continues, the Mula and Mutha rivers could become health hazards.
Over 35 bridges run over these two main rivers in the city. It is a common sight to see people dumping trash into them. And so, in addition to cleaning the rivers, the corporation will also start fining violators who throw garbage into these water bodies.
“We will have a team of volunteers who will help us educate and make people aware of why it is necessary to stop throwing waste in the rivers. Along with the education and awareness drives, we will also start charging fines from people who will be caught violating the rules of not throwing garbage in the river. We think simply by cleaning the rivers one day a week will not solve the purpose; people of Pune should know why they need to protect these rivers,” Tilak told NDTV.
Over 20 NGOs have come onboard to help clean the rivers.
Sugandha Gosavi, member of NGO Jeevit Nadi, one of the 20 non-profits furthering the cleanup initiative spoke to Hindustan Times. She said, “We are aiming at getting the rivers water-hyacinth-free, pollution-free and start flowing naturally by 2020 and making Pune the first “garbage-free-river” city of India. We have a resolved to make the rivers sewage-free and toxin-free by the year 2025.
Tilak added that the authorities have started a Rs 9 crore river development project and are planning to set up 11 waste treatment plants. The aim is to stop the sewage from flowing into the rivers and polluting them further.
In a final message, she encourages Puneites to come together to help the clean-up, saying, “We have the equipment needed to clean-up our rivers, we have funds as well; what we need is now to simply synchronise all the efforts. I urge all the Puneites to come forward for these clean-up activities as these small steps by all of us will help revive our rivers. Just dedicate one hour a week in these clean-up activities being organised by the civic authorities.”
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)