Dedicating their Sunday to the cause of Mumbai’s lost rivers, hundreds of citizens walked along the Poisar river to draw attention to water pollution which has turned it into a sewer.
The river march was spearheaded by Rajendra Singh, known as ‘the Waterman of India’. He was joined by Mumbai North MP Gopal Shetty, Charkop MLA Yogesh Sagar, corporators, citizens and students. The campaign, River March, is a movement by a group of residents who seek to rejuvenate rivers by trying to free them up from encroachments and inflow of untreated sewage. Walks were conducted simultaneously along the Mithi and Oshiwara rivers, which are also polluted by sewage and garbage.
Rajendra Singh, who attended the walk at Poisar, said, “A river is like mother. I am glad to see that people are concerned about the city’s mothers. They are in the proverbial intensive care unit. People should make them breathe again.”
The Ramon Magsaysay award winner, who also received the Stockholm Water prize, said mere slogans and speeches won’t turn a nallah (drain) into nadi (river). He said he was peeved at the sorry state of once-clean rivers. “If we just participate in the march and leave for homes, it will just be a morning walk. We have to act and action should come from within,” he added.
The MLA said the action to clean up the river will be taken from Monday. “I promise to survey the 500-m boundary and examine the situation. From tomorrow (Monday), we shall start removing floating garbage from the river,” he said, adding that he would hire a private conservancy firm if the government fails to do so.
Shetty said people are indifferent towards the dying rivers as they are getting water in their taps. “Turn on the tap and people get water. These facilities have made people turn their backs on rivers, ponds, lakes and other water bodies,” he said.