It was supposed to be a place where Mumbaikars could walk while breathing in some fresh air along Mithi river. It is now an open-air toilet and dumpyard
An intended scenic walkway along Mithi River and Vakola nullah, passing through Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), has turned into an open-air toilet and dumpyard. The project was part of a beautification drive along the two water bodies.
Construction debris is unloaded by trucks near the walkway along the Vakola nullah passing through BKC every day, say locals. It also endangers the mangroves nearby. Pic/Shadab Khan
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) spent R9.8 crore to construct the walkway, along with a garden. along Mithi River and the Vakola nullah at BKC. While the garden is decently maintained, the rest of the project begs for attention.
Workers remove waste from the Mithi every day
A stretch of 200-300 metres along the Mithi at BKC, right behind MMRDA’s office, is being used by local slum dwellers as a toilet. People are often seen defecating and urinating on the walkway, which was built for morning and evening walks.
They then dump it right beside the walkway behind MMRDA’s office in BKC
Naturally, no walkers use the path. During mid-day’s visit, we saw that silt and plastic waste removed from the river is dumped right beside the path. A watchman of a local housing society told this reporter that at night, the spot turns into a den for drug addicts and alcoholics.
Things were no better along the nullah passing through BKC. We saw mud scattered everywhere and people using the stretch as a toilet, owing to the lack of public facilities. Also, dumpers were unloading construction debris along the road, near the mangroves. This poses a danger to the tree cover.
Moreover, an illegal approach road has been carved out connecting to the main BKC road, to enable trucks to go directly to the ‘dumping spot’. The trucks may also damage the walkway made of paver blocks. A local, on condition of anonymity, said this has been going on for more than a year. Local Shiv Sena MLA Prakash Bala Sawant has written to the MMRDA several times about the issue, but to no avail.
MMRDA superintendent engineer Devendra Gajbhiye said, “We spent about R10 crore on developing the 900-metre stretch including development of the garden and the walkway along the retaining wall of Mithi River and Vakola nullah passing through BKC.
The intention behind this was to protect the river and also to enable residents from BKC and Bandra Government Colony to come here for morning and evening walks.”
When questioned about the lack of maintenance, he said, “We will soon start maintenance work of the walkway. The additional metropolitan commissioner and I visited the entire stretch a few days ago. Soon, we will have proper fencing along the walkway and it will be maintained.
We will install gates to prevent dumpers from entering. We had installed gates earlier, but anti-social elements damaged them.” He also added that he had written to the Mangroves Cell of the forest department, as protecting mangroves was its prerogative.
After the Mumbai floods of July 26, 2005, work began on cleaning up Mithi River. Silt from the river was removed to increase its water-carrying capacity. A retaining wall was also constructed along it.
The beautification project
In 2010, MMRDA started developing a wooden bund on Mithi’s banks as recommended by the Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS), Pune. In its report, CWPRS had recommended construction of a wooden bund, a gabion wall and service roads along the bank.
MMRDA implemented the plan and also constructed the above-cited walkway. The gabion wall was intended to protect mangroves. Of the total Rs 9.8 crore, Rs 55 lakh was spent on developing the wooden bund and the garden.
Length of the walkway
The year the project was completed
Total cost of the beautification project along Mithi River and Vakola nullah passing through BKC
>> Dumping endangers nearby mangroves
>> Path was part of beautification project along the water bodies
>> One part of the stretch is right behind the MMRDA office