No meeting held on Mithi river in five years: RTI reply

Mumbai, Aug 24 (IANS) The Mithi river, which proved to be a major killer during the 2005 Mumbai floods, holds no priority for the Maharashtra government, if one were to go by a reply to an RTI query.

In the past five years, successive chief ministers did not convene a single meeting to discuss matters concerning the Mithi river, to conserve it, restore it to its former glory and avoid flooding in future.

“The Mithi River Development and Protection Authority (MRDPA), under the chairmanship of the chief minister, did not hold a single meeting in the past five years,” said RTI activist Anil Galgali.

Only six meetings of MRDPA have been convened since it was set up in August 2005 in the wake of July 26 floods that year.

Two meetings were held in 2005, and one each in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010, according to the RTI reply submitted by MRDPA’s Deputy Planner Shivraj Pawar.

However, between 2011 and 2015, not a single meeting was held during the terms of chief ministers Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and now Devendra Fadnavis.

Besides the chief minister, state chief secretary is chairman of the high powered committee of the MRDPA, which held just 11 meetings since 2005.

While it met once in 2005 and 2012, twice in 2006 and 2008, it met for a maximum of five times in 2013.

The RTI reply was negative to Galgali’s question if there was any rule stipulating a certain number of mandatory meetings in a year.

The Mithi river, the only freshwater river running in three directions in the Mumbai suburbs, is 17.8 km long, with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai responsible for the 11.8 km stretch from Vihar Lake to CST Bridge in Kurla.

The remaining six km stretch is the responsibility of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, from Kurla to Mahim Causeway.

Reduced to a stinking gutter in the past four decades, the river was set for a clean-up by the MRDPA, which has so far spent around Rs.1,200 crore.

“Despite spending such a huge amount, the restoration remains unsatisfactory due to lack of interest or supervision from top officials. The chief minister must immediately convene an MRDPA meeting to take the work ahead,” Galgali said, adding that the destructive potential of the river shouldn’t be ignored.

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