VIRAT A SINGH | Mon, 7 Mar 2016-07:16am , Mumbai , dna

The march has been organised to highlight the bad state of rivers in the state.

Around 15,000 Mumbaikars braved the heat and humidity on Sunday morning to walk for 5km alongside the four rivers of Mumbai, in what could easily be termed as the beginning of one of the biggest citizen movements demanding the rejuvenation of these water bodies.

Led by the ‘Waterman of India’ Rajendra Singh, the initiative was started by River March, a community of a few like-minded people who planned this ‘Dandi March‘ to highlight the sorry state of rivers such as Dahisar, Poisar and Oshiwara, as well as the Mithi river. In fact, on Sunday, around 7,000 people reportedly walked along Dahisar river, 3,000 people walked along the Oshiwara one, around 2,000 people walked along the Mithi river, while 3,000 people walked along the one at Poisar.

Singh, the winner of the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize, said that he was delighted with the way Mumbaikars, and especially schoolchildren and women, participated in the walk, thus sending a strong message to the state government as well as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation that they want the rivers to be cleaned up.

“I would urge all those who walked along the four rivers to write a letter to the chief minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, as well as prime minister Narendra Modi informing them about how you walked along the river and saw the condition and how you now seek the revival of these small rivers of Mumbai. It is not a very difficult task and hence it should be taken up at the earliest on a priority basis,” Singh said, adding that if people across the country want their rivers to be in a clean condition, they will have to come out in large numbers.

Even as Singh walked along the 5km stretch of the Dahisar river, he said that the entire 14km stretch along the river is in its worst state once it emerges out of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. “I have walked along the entire stretch too and there are four or five easily identifiable problem areas that are causing the degradation of this river, including a dhobi ghat and tabela and areas with slums and buildings from where waste water is emptied directly into this river,” he said.

Avinash Kubal, the deputy director of Maharashtra Nature Park (MNP), which was one of the partners for the River March, said that the entire focus at present is on Dahisar river as important data and a survey of the issues of the other three rivers is being awaited. “We have several suggestions ready and will be discussing it with the right authorities. The main aim of this walk was also to let people see for themselves how they are playing an active or passive role in the pollution of this river, which affects their health too in the long term. We are sure that all those who took part in the walk will neither throw nor allow anyone else to throw any garbage in any water body.”