Friday, January 27, 2012


Savio Silveira sdb
MUMBAI, JANUARY 27, 2012: Over three hundred students and teachers from twenty schools across the city attended the 'Meet the Mithi' programme organized by GreenLine, the Don Bosco Environmental Forum, at the Maharashtra Nature Park at Sion-Dharavi, and thereafter, a clean-up on the bank of the Mithi River at Bandra-Kurla Complex on Wednesday, January 25, 2012.

The event was part of the Green Schools Campaign that has been going on in thirty schools right from Colaba to Naigaon, spread across the western and central suburbs of Mumbai. The main objective of the Green Schools Campaign is creating the next generation of environmental leaders. Hence, prior to Republic Day, this event aimed at brining the students face to face with an important event concerning our city. In his introduction, Fr. Savio Silveira, Director of GreenLine, explained to the students the need for citizens to wake to the gift of the Mithi River, how it is being destroyed, and how this problem needs to be urgently addressed. This was followed by the screening of the documentary movie by Observer Research Foundation (ORF), called 'Making the Sewer a River Again'; documenting the Mithi river's passage through time, its degradation and the necessity of its revival and upkeep. Next, noted river activist Janak Daftari, addressed the students. He pointed out that today the Mithi is in such a bad shape, that no one would even want to dip a finger in it. However, he went on to say, that if the citizens and authorities work together for the Mithi cause, in a few years from now we would be able to swim in it again. The well known environmental researcher Gautam Kirtane, then addressed the students, and exhorted them to learn more about the local history and geography, especially that of our city. He suggested that they take up a detailed study of the Mithi, to understand its significance and its problems.
In a city known for its strong contrasts, the Bandra-Kurla Complex is one of the starkest reminders of the mismanagement of waste, and the adverse effects of unstructured modernization. Hence, this location was decided as the best place to sensitize the students on the problems of the river. While the movie showed the spoiling of the Mithi river, on-site, the students from the different schools were at first disgusted with the amount of dirt in the river as well as on its banks. It however, was most heartening to see that all of these students, armed with only gloves and brooms, in the span of one hour, managed to clean each of the twenty sections of the river bank that had been allotted to them. The students showed absolutely no inhibitions about cleaning the dirt. Some students were also trying to pull garbage from the river itself.

The students were supported in their task by some municipal staff. Throughout the time that the clean-up was going on, students held banners on the main road asking people to be more conscious about the treatment being meted out to the Mithi, which has the capacity to be the water lifeline of the city. If the efforts of these students is anything to go by, Mumbai is being witness to a wave of environmental leaders in their grooming stage, and when they are at their prime, will be making wiser environmental and sustenance plans for the whole of the city, country and world.   

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