MUMBAI: Mithi river, the eyesore of the city, which resembles a nullah more than a water body, may well be used for water transport, if the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) has its way. This is part of MMB’s bid to start its pet project – water transport that has so far failed to take off in the state. MMB has floated tenders for starting water transport on the Mithi river, confirmed MMB Chief Executive Officer Atul Patne.
When asked why such a filthy river was selected, Patne said, “There was a time when it was used for navigation and we have heard that the water was even used for drinking. Maybe a stretch of 2-3 kms can be used for navigation or we could even use water transport just to cross the Mithi river.” He added that MMB would not spend any money on the project, but was inviting expressions of interest from companies.
The clean-up job on Mithi river has always been a contentious subject, which has often assumed political hues. A sarcastic Kirit Somaiya, BJP MP from Mumbai North East, said, “It will be a very ambitious plan. I wish them all success.” Somaiya had inspected a lot of work on the Mithi river and once, the boat he was travelling in had got stuck in the silt during low tide.
Rahul Asthana, former commissioner of MMRDA, one of the bodies that has been responsible for the cleaning and desilting of the river, said, “No one will get in a boat where the river is so contaminated. It needs a proper clean-up. We have not been able to do the clean-up. Unless it is cleaned up, they can’t start the navigation. They have to stop sewage being dumped into the river and end all pollution. At best, Mithi can be called a nullah now.”
The Maritime Board is keen on starting water transport to traverse the city as the strain on road and rail transport in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai is increasing by the day.
The other routes for water transport being considered by MMB are Vasai Virar -BhayanderKasheli in Thane creek, CBD Belapur to Mith bunder in Thane and Taloja- SeawoodsNerul-Diwale – Kharghar.
Patne said that the Indian Institute of Technology is also helping them with navigation routes.
The MMB says that it is willing to get into a10-year agreement with the companies that win bids for the river navigation project. They will also be allowed to set up water sports facilities, he added.
Right to Information (RT) activist Anil Galgali, who has filed pleas with regard to the clean-up of Mithi river, sounded a cautious note about the project, saying, “The government must first stop drainage from flowing into the river from Powai to Kurla.They must also stop the pollution.”
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