Observing that “viral diseases have risen to epidemic proportions in Mumbai” due to the deplorable state of the city’s rivers and the consequent water logging and drainage woes during the monsoon, the Bombay high court on Thursday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to “sit together” and take immediate measures to address the problem.
A division bench led by justice VM Kanade was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Atal Dubey seeking that civic authorities be asked to take the necessary steps to tackle the yearly drainage problems and water logging.
The petitioner told the court that after the July 2005 deluge, authorities had carried out dredging and rock excavation at the Mithi river, but as per a report by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), several tonnes of raw sewage are still being dumped into the river everyday.
He said that as per the report, the “original depth of the Mithi river was 16 feet, but now, its depth is less than 7 feet because of constant dumping of raw, untreated sewage”.
At this, the bench observed that the situation is alarming. “This is a dangerous situation,” said the judges, adding, “If this is true, then all the authorities have to sit together and find a solution. This is not a time to fight over jurisdiction. It is a matter of serious concern.”
“Because the authorities are not complying with the statutory provisions of treating sewage before dumping it, the rivers in Mumbai are in a deplorable state. This leads to drainage issues and water logging... and then viral diseases like dengue and chikungunya are on the rise,” said justice Kanade.
The court has now directed the BMC and MMRDA to take immediate measures to clean up the rivers in the city and consider the recommendations made in the NEERI report and implement them on a war footing.
The court is likely to hear the matter on October 5.