MUMBAI: The BMC wants to hire a consultant for Rs 36 crore to suggest measures for Mithi river rejuvenation, flood mitigation, and converting the 18-km channel into a tourist attraction.
“This is the first time we are appointing a consultant for the holistic rejuvenation and development of Mithi river. Earlier, works were subject-specific, but now the consultant will prepare reports on 15-16 issues ranging from flood mitigation, holding ponds and development of tourism. So, the scope is much bigger and we are getting international consultants. The payments are linked to deliverables,” said P Velrasu, additional municipal commissioner (Projects). Last week, the BMC had tabled the proposal for appointing a consultant for the Mithi Rejuvenation Project before the standing committee.
The BMC and MMDRA have spent close to Rs 1,500 crore to clean up Mithi River, but still large portions of the work are yet to be completed since the July 2005 deluge. Though the BMC has claimed that several works have been finished related to widening, deepening and construction of retaining walls, work of a service road is yet to be completed. Sewage and industrial waste continues to flow into the river and the slums remain on its banks. The BMC’s claim that it will rejuvenate the river and turn it into a tourist spot sound good on paper but should be realistic and executed in a time-bound manner.
Officials said three firms have expressed interest and based on a marking system, the BMC has picked a joint venture of two consultants. “The consultant will have to look at installing pumps ne- ar Mahim creek to create urban forests, beautification of riverbanks, creating recreation spaces, setting up water sports facilities and cafes, and generating revenue through entertainment events. All works will be carried out keeping in mind the environmental impact and financial concerns,” said a civic official. The BMC and MMRDA have between them spent close to Rs 1,500 crore on rejuvena- ting the Mithi for more than 16 years since the July 2005 deluge when the river first became a focal point of efforts to prevent flooding in Mumbai.
In this year’s civic budget, BMC chief Iqbal Chahal has allocated Rs 565 crore for the Mithi rejuvenation project. The BMC has claimed that 95% of the widening and deepening work, and 80% of the retaining wall have been completed. But RTI activist Anil Galgali said key works, such as building a service road, are incomplete even as contractors have pocketed Rs 1,150 crore. “There must be a white paper on the works and instead of ambitious rejuvenation projects that claim to turn the river into a tourist attraction, pollution and flooding issues must be addressed,” he said.