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Mithi River Widening Project
The Mithi River Widening Project, spanning a 900-meter stretch between Kalina Bridge to CST Bridge, has encountered a decade-long hurdle caused by approximately 700 illegal structures. In a recent move, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has initiated a survey to identify structures eligible for compensation, aiming to clear the path for the river’s expansion. However, challenges lie ahead, particularly in overcoming legal obstacles posed by some of these structures.
Mithi River Widening and Deepening
Over the past decade, the Mithi River has undergone widening at various points along its 17.8-km stretch from Powai to Mahim Bay. The river, flowing through Kranti Nagar, narrows to 60 meters beneath the Kurla-Kalina bridge and widens to 220 meters as it approaches Mahim Bay. Unfortunately, encroachments along the riverbank have impeded its widening and deepening process. Notices issued by the BMC to warehouses built along the river were met with legal challenges, leading to a stall in the widening work.
BMC’s Demolition Efforts
In a significant step towards progress, the BMC demolished 56 illegal structures in Kismat Nagar, Kurla (West), on November 30 last year, freeing up one acre of land. Plans are now in motion for a second round of demolition within a month. A senior civic official stated that structures within this stretch would be thoroughly scrutinized to identify legal ones eligible for compensation, with notices set to be dispatched in the next eight days. For those challenging BMC’s actions in court, the remaining structures are scheduled for demolition by the first week of February.
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Mithi River Widening Project: Challenges Faced
Apart from legal challenges and resistance from encroachers, political considerations have also played a role in delaying the Mithi River widening. The issue of slum rehabilitation, influenced by voting bank politics, has further complicated the project. Civic sources reveal that this delay has hindered the overall progress of the river’s expansion, which is vital for mitigating flooding risks.
Mithi River Geography
Originating at Vihar Lake, the Mithi River passes through areas such as Powai, Saki Naka, Kurla, Kalina, Vakola, and Bandra-Kurla Complex before culminating at Mahim Creek. The river, known for seasonal rises during monsoons, has faced challenges related to pollution. Illegal activities, including sewage dumping, industrial waste disposal, and unregulated hazardous waste discharge, have significantly impacted the river’s ecosystem. The polluted water poses a threat to marine life, and the riverbed is laden with sludge, garbage, and excessive vegetation growth.
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The Mithi River Widening Project faces a crucial juncture as the BMC gears up to demolish around 700 illegal structures obstructing the river’s expansion. The impending demolition, scheduled for the first week of February, signifies a significant step towards reclaiming the river’s natural flow. However, the challenges posed by legal complexities and political considerations underscore the intricate nature of urban development projects. The successful execution of the Mithi River Widening Project not only promises to alleviate flooding concerns but also addresses long-standing environmental issues associated with the river.
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