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Mithi River and its Degradation
By Rahul Yadav

Mithi river is a (17.4Km) long river which flows from various parts of Mumbai, such as Powai, Sakinaka, Kurla, Kalina, Vakola, BKC, Dharavi and Mahim. It originates from the overflow of Vihar Lake and drains at Mahim Bay into the Arabian Sea. It has catchment area of 7,295 hectares. The rapid and uncontrolled growth of Mumbai city has indirectly affected water quality of Mithi river and also its aesthetic view has significantly deteriorated.

Fig: Flow of Mithi River


Importance of Mithi river

  • The point where Mithi River meets Arabian Sea is a nominated Bird sanctuary where migratory birds come for nesting.
  • Mangroves on the bank of Mithi act as an important buffer zone to prevent sea water to enter into the city
  • It is the only river which balances the water level of Mumbai during heavy rainfall. –This is the reason it is also said that Mithi River is the life savior of Mumbai.

Threats to Mithi river As Mithi River flows from densely populated industrial hubs of Mumbai, this river has been used as open drainage for the release of waste debris and effluents which is one of the major causes for the present condition of Mithi River.

Mangrove alongside the river has been destructed which normally serve as a buffer between land and water. Without them, the river banks are unable to withstand pressure from increased water flow. It is estimated that Mumbai lost about 40% of its mangroves between 1995 and 2005. Some have been destroyed by the dumping of sewage and garbage, but many of them were claimed for building land, such as the Bandra Kurla Complex.

Another major reason for degradation of Mithi River is the encroachment alongside the river which has led to release of domestic sewage, garbage, plastic and other household waste directly into the river, Mithi River is used as open and easily available drainage by the nearby residential and industrial people.

Fig 2: Solid Waste in Mithi River


Fig 3: Encroachment alongside of Mithi river


Effects of degraded Mithi River

26th July 2005

One of the biggest natural disasters which occurred in Mumbai is 26 th July 2005, the major reason behind this flood is considered as condition of Mithi. As there was continuous rain in city for more than 4 days lakes started overflowing in Mithi, since the river was clogged with plastic, garbage and sewage, it couldn’t bear the load. Instead of flowing downstream into the Arabian Sea, the floodwaters seeped onto the streets of the city, along with gallons of waste.

More than 5,000 people died (across the state of Maharashtra) many of them in Mumbai, it is considered that if Mithi River would have been clean and pollution free (Free of Plastic and waste debris) and mangroves of city around Mithi were not destructed the effect of flood might not be so severe in Mumbai. Now, more than 10 years have passed but the condition of river has not been improved yet, it can even lead to much big disaster than 26 th July 2005 as the pollution load in the river is been increasing continuously.

Conclusion: To protect Mumbai from flood it is utmost important to preserve Mithi river. Encroachment alongside of Mithi River should be restricted; destruction of mangroves and release of industrial, residential waste should be strictly prohibited. Proper arrangement for the release of effluent of industries and waste from residential areas which are situated near Mithi should be done so that their waste does not enter into Mithi River.

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Viewer: |   Last Updated: 16-09-2017 - Saturday