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Mumbai: Aaditya Thackeray inaugurates Mithi river clean-up pilot project

The pilot project has begun from Vakola nullah in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and the entire project will be completed in 18 months
Mithi river cleaning project at BKC. (Satish Bate/HT PHOTO)
Published on Aug 06, 2021 10:30 PM IST
ByNaresh Kamath and Eeshanpriya MS, Mumbai

Tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray on Friday inaugurated the pilot project for the clean-up of the Mithi river, which aims to improve its water quality. The pilot project has begun from Vakola nullah in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and the entire project will be completed in 18 months.

Here the main function would be collect the floating materials and recycle it. Thackeray said, “This pilot project is the first-of-its-kind in India and will transform the Mithi river. Evaluating the trial run, we aim to extend this further to the other rivers in the city.”

He recalled how Mithi had turned into nullah and its effects were felt in the 2006 deluge. “The waste in the rivers is thrown by us and we need to take steps like not disposing waste in them,” he added.

According to the press release issued by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the floating matter collection and segregation will first be observed for the first three months. After this, it will segregated and analysis done by scientific means. This segregated matter will be sent for pyrolysis or recycling in phases. They will also spread awareness among the people who tend to dispose their waste in Mithi.


This project is the part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by MMRDA and Marine Debris Partnership on September 3, last year.

Marine Debris Partnership is a partnership between the United Nations Technology Innovation Labs (UNTIL), the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, RiverRecycle Oy of Finland and Earth5R Environmental Services Private Limited.

In the past few months, Earth5R has trained about 5,000 families on organic waste processing, compost making, and segregation of dry and recyclable waste in and around Kurla, Sion and Dharavi along Mithi River. This has helped in reduction of carbon footprint in these locations.

Saurabh Gupta, founder, Earth5R, said they aimed to make it a role model in sustainable river cleaning. “Entire equipment is solar powered and we are using bio toilets, solar lamps and we want to make it a leading example in the world in sustainable river cleaning examples,” said Gupta.

The 17.84-km Mithi river falls under the jurisdiction of both, BMC and MMRDA. The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) in 2018 had conducted a water quality assessment of eight major state rivers in the state. It stated that Mithi river was Maharashtra’s most polluted river and contained human and animal excreta almost 15 times than the safe limit.

Project: Mithi River Clean-up project

Objective: To collect floating matter on the river, and to recycle it


*The project was inaugurated at the hands of Aaditya Thackeray, Minister, Environment and Climate Change, Tourism, and Guardian Minister, Mumbai Suburban District on Friday

*River cleaning work will now begin

*The equipment has already been installed in Mithi River near the Vakola Bridge. This site was chosen after conducting on-site trials and analysing the collected data

*October 2020: Floating matter collection equipment consisting of boom, concentrator and recovery unit were designed and made at Helsinki, Finland by RiverRecycle and were dispatched

*January 2021: The equipment reached India


*The boom will collect the floating waste

*the Concentrator, using the flow of the river water, will guide the waste into the recovery unit through a conveyor belt, thus removing the floating wastes from the water

*from the Recovery Unit, the waste will enter the segregation area via a transfer conveyor belt.

*In the Segregation Area, the waste will move through a segregation conveyor belt and the different types of waste will be segregated

*The process will use solar power with backup of battery charged by solar energy

*It will be done in 3 shifts and the conveyor belts have infinite capacity to collect the floating wastes

Key points:

*Initial estimates indicate a daily collection of 5 tons of floating waste from single point. Gradually the capacity will be increased to 50 tons per day.

*The floating matter collection and segregation will be observed over the next three months. Collected waste will be segregated, analysed and recycled

*The team will examine other parameters like lifestyle changes and types of waste generated, to help in awareness campaigns

Deadline: 18 months

First six months: Signing of MoU between MMRDA and The Marine Debris Partnership; awareness programs across Mumbai, 100 Kg plastic waste collection and znalysis, installation of river cleaning machinery

7th to 18th month: One-year operation of the river cleaning machinery with capacity to collect 50 ton of floating material per day, and analysis of the data on the contents of the waste collected from the river

Cost: 5 crore

Who is doing it:

*MMRDA, which is the facilitator of the project, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Marine Debris Partnership on September 3 last year for Mithi River Clean-Up Project.

*Marine Debris Partnership is a partnership between the United Nations Technology Innovation Labs (UNTIL), the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, RiverRecycle Oy of Finland, and Earth5R Environmental Services Private Limited, Mumbai

*Huhtamaki, a Finnish consumer packaging company is funding the project

*UNTIL is the Project Manager for the partnership

*VTT is the Fund Manager of the partnership

*RiverRecycle is providing the technology for the cleaning of the Mithi River to stop plastic and floating debris from being carried into the sea.

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