Encroachments along the Mithi river and the source of pollutants that are running into it will be digitally mapped over the next few months, in a bid to conserve the 15-km long river.
The neglect of the Mithi river was among the things that aggravated the 2005 deluge, said the Madhav Chitale committee that investigated the cause of the floods.
The NGO Jalbiradari will use Geographical Information System (GIS) technology to create a databank of encroachments and polluting points such as residential and illegal industrial units along the stretch. A team of students has already finished a similar mapping of the Powai Lake.
“The main aim is to rejuvenate the river, for which we need coordinates. Once we have a databank, we can superimpose these coordinates on the existing land use map, and based on this, take action,” said Jalbiradari’s Janak Daftari, who is also an IIT-Bombay alumnus.
The NGO and social activist Jagdish Gandhi have been working on restoring the river ever since the 2005 floods drowned the city. The Mithi river originates at Powai and flows through Kurla, Saki Naka, Vakola and Mahim, before meeting the Arabian Sea at the Mahim creek. The Powai and Vihar lakes are its catchment areas. But nearly 54% of the original river flow has been obstructed by encroachments, roads and other forms of development, experts have pointed out.
Both Daftari and Gandhi had moved the Bombay high court about restoring the river’s width. They also sought an order against building concrete river banks. The HC has ordered removing encroachments.
Among other things, the digital mapping will include preparing a percolation plan along the catchment area.
“Concretisation of the river’s catchment areas needs to be done away with, as rain water is not percolating to the soil. “We need to have the river flowing perennially,” said Daftari.