Govt to rejuvenate Bhima river

bhimariverMUMBAI: Taking a leaf out of prime minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Namami Gange’ programme to clean up India’s holiest river, the state government is planning to launch a similar rejuvenation of the Bhima river in Maharashtra.
This ‘Namami Chandrabhaga’ project will draw on the experience of the clean-up of the iconic Thames in London and the development of the Sabarmati waterfront in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad.

The Bhima river originates at the pilgrimage centre of Bhimashankar at Ambegaon in Pune district and flows through Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana before joining the Krishna river. As it meanders, it is called the Chandrabhaga at Pandharpur due to its crescent shape and lakhs of warkaris (devotees of Pandarpur’s Lord Vithoba) take a dip in its waters.

The proposed clean-up programme will aim at controlling pollution through industrial and sewerage run-off and development of the waterfront, especially in urban and peri-urban areas. It will also involve public participation to attain these objectives.

“We are planning to launch a similar Namami Chandrabhaga programme,” finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is also the state’s forest minister, told dna. He admitted that the rampant pollution of riverine systems through sewerage and industrial pollutants, with little control by authorities, had wreaked havoc on it.

“The Chandrabhaga river is one that is regarded as holy… In the next budget we will make a provision for it (the clean up programme). Till then, the details regarding the contribution of the state government and local bodies (like municipal corporations and councils) will be worked out.

Sewage treatment plants (STPs) will be set up on the banks of the river to ensure that only treated effluents are discharged into the river.

While information about the clean-up of the iconic Thames river in London, which was transformed from being a polluted, biologically dead water body, will be sought, Mungantiwar said they would also visit the Sabarmati waterfront, which has been developed as a tourist and amusement attraction.

Sources said the Maharashtra Remote Application Centre (MRSAC), Nagpur, would be asked to map out the river, its area, cities, population, industries and agriculture on its banks, dams, sewerage and effluent discharge on the route using satellite technology.

Waste and sewerage treatment plants would be installed to ensure that only treated water is discharged into the river.

“The waterfront in the cities on the banks of the river will be developed to create recreational facilities,” the official added.

Apart from improving the environment and recreating a rich biological ecosystem, the clean-up will also bring down the cost of water supply schemes where water for villages and towns has to be taken from farther upstream or downstream due to pollution in the local source, thus increasing the capital and operating costs.

“Human civilisation developed because of rivers, but unfortunately, these rivers have borne the brunt of this development,” noted Mungantiwar. – From Daily News Analysis

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