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Clean our rivers: Cow dung protest against BMC staff in Mumbai

Citizens want to stop dumping of sewage, animal waste in rivers.

mumbai Updated: Aug 25, 2017 01:19 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,BMC,BMC staff
The polluted Dahisar river(HT File)

Municipal staff in R South and R Central wards of the city, which includes Kandivali and Borivali, received packets of dry cow dung on Wednesday to remind them of the problem of untreated sewage and animal waste that is dumped into the Dahisar, Poisar and Oshiwara rivers.

Members of RiverMarch, a citizens group campaigning for the rejuvenation of Mumbai’s rivers, which have now turned into sewers, said that if the municipal corporation did not take remedial action to reduce the pollution in the rivers, they will get wet dung from the rivers. Tejas Shah, a RiverMarch member, said. “We request Mumbaiites that if they are facing similar water pollution in their river, they should package the waste and hand it over to the civic body as a gift.”

According to RiverMarch members, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been promising to clean the rivers over the past one year, but there has been no action on ground. The group alleges that nine schools, residential complexes and offices are facing a health hazard. HT had reported in December last year that Borivli residents were shocked after finding rotten buffalo carcasses dumped into the Dahisar river. There are 18 cow sheds located along the river.

“Even after filing hundreds of complaints, speaking personally to the civic officials, submitting newspaper cuttings and reporting health issues being faced by citizens, BMC’s apathy towards this issue has forced us to send this message to them,” said Gopal Jhaveri, RiverMarch member who met BMC officials on Wednesday.

He added that the citizens were fed up and had given the BMC an ultimatum of resolving the pollution problem after Ganeshotsav. “If they fail to do so, we will ensure that a packet of cow dung will be waiting for them daily at their offices. We will carry out a similar protest at the state pollution control board office as well,” said Jhaveri.

Dahisar resident Alenkar Deshmukh told HT that he and his family have to bear the stench from the river daily. “It is difficult to begin and end our day with this horrible smell. I am afraid that my entire family will need to be rushed to a hospital soon due to the infection. No action has been taken against the tabelas and the issue has been prevalent for ages,” he said.

The municipal officials ignored the dung packets but asked the protestors to meet them for a discussion. BMC officials from R-Central refused to comment on the matter, but R-south ward officials said desilting and regular river cleaning had been done over the past six months. “The cleanup is an ongoing process and certain sections of the river are free from waste. However, there is need for more awareness among the tabela owners and the problem will be resolved soon,” said Sahebrao Gaikwad, assistant municipal commissioner, R-south ward.

Officials from BMC’s solid waste management (SWM) department said that nets had been installed along the length of the river to trap debris. “Waste including cow dung is being regularly removed from the river. We will be installing more nets over the next fortnight,” said a senior civic official.

Jhaveri, however, refuted BMC’s claims stating that the nets have been stolen twice already, and there is no plan in place to remove the urine or provide vehicles at these locations for effective cleanup.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 01:19 IST