Raising concerns over the deteriorating condition of the Mithi river in Mumbai and the Arabian sea, shipping and transport minister Nitin Gadkari urged the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to clean and use them as an alternative mode of transport. He said the recycled water could be re-purposed for cleaning railways and supplying to refineries, while speaking at the Mumbai 2.0 event, Saturday. Calling the dirty water bodies Mumbai’s biggest problem, Gadkari said, “They are in such a bad state that I feel ashamed of it”.
The two major ports under his ministry the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) have already set up recycling plants, he said. “I want the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to consider cleaning these water bodies and convert them into waterways for transportation. This will help reduce the burden on the suburban railway network,” he said.
Citing the example of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) that has set up a tertiary treatment plant at Okhla for producing high quality water from sewage which can be used for non-potable purpose, Gadkari said a similar model can be replicated in Mumbai. He further said his ministry has undertaken the mammoth task of converting 111 rivers into waterways and also cleaning of rivers including Bramhaputra and now the Ganga rejuvenation project. “In Seoul, they have cleaned and beautified all the rivers and nallahs. If they can do it, we can also think of implementing it here for the development of the city,” he added. He also said the city’s age old storm water drainage system needs to be redesigned and stressed the need to maintain the ecology and environment and public participation was imperative. “I believe that no new work regarding setting up or expansion of new chemical factories should start at eastern water fronts and it should be taken outside of the city,” Gadkari added.
Speaking at the occasion, union aviation minister Suresh Prabhu reiterated that Mumbai needs a proper strategy for development. “We first need to study the carrying capacity of the megapolis. While undertaking any kind of development, while we create infrastructure, while we regenerate Mumbai, we need to ensure that the soul of the city, its ethos, is not lost,” he said, adding that there was a need to create a climate proof action plan.
Globally countries have worked on a pattern of city-led growth and Singapore, Shanghai and Mexico are examples of this, contributing significantly to the national GDP. “If you want to develop Mumbai as a city that would contribute largely to the national GDP, the development should be undertaken in a planned manner. Making Mumbai a better place to live should be the main focus of the government,” he said.