Mula Mutha – Can We Still Call It A River?

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Pollution, dumping sewage, dead fish, bacteria, toxic substances – all that can go wrong with a river and a lot more has already been faced by Mula Mutha, one of the rivers which flows through the heart of the Pune city and eventually meets the Bhima River. Why? How did we manage to do this? A river which was at one time so pleasant to the eye and a home for different exotic birds migrating to it during different parts of the year, today barely manages to look like a water body, with all the waste that it has become a dumping zone for.

The beautiful river was once Pune’s crowning jewel. Today, even marijuana plants, that are clearly illegal, are found to be grown on the river bed near Kharadi. Not only is all of this extremely disheartening, but also a serious threat to hygiene and health, for the organisms living in the river as well as for us. The hard hitting truth is that the river and the condition it is in today is the reflection of our ugly and uncaring side.

Garbage dumped in the river
Garbage dumped in the river

I’ve been living in an apartment overlooking the river for a year now and I’ve been adamant about shifting but the stench is terrible and is getting worse day by day. It’s a disappointment seeing the river mistreated like this,” says Rohini, an inhabitant of Pune. We do not inherit the earth and its resources from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. ‘Sustainable development’ is the way forward, but after looking at the state of our beloved river, the future of our children appears bleak.

Waste in the river water
Waste in the river water

I cannot count the number of times I’ve personally stopped people from throwing garbage into the river. It’s an absolute disgrace to see such lack of common sense among such educated people”, says Devisha, a smart and opinionated teenager. There are several people we can point fingers at when asked to assign the responsibility for the steady deterioration of this river – Pune Municipal Corporation for their negligence and their non-enforcement of basic policies, the companies sanctioning the allowance of untreated industrial waste to enter the water body, the general public treating it as a collective dump by throwing in non-biodegradable items such as chips packets and plastic bags, anyone and everyone for that matter.

But what’s a blame game going to do now? It’s time we all put our minds together, take initiatives and actually implement them. Reviving and replenishing a whole river is obviously not an easy task but is also not impossible. If we get together and join hands to make a difference we can definitely make it happen. People have made their displeasure very clear and there have been fickle attempts at cleaning the river.

Migratory birds that would resort to the clean waters of the river few years back
Migratory birds that would resort to the clean waters of the river few years back

We do require ecological engineering techniques, and various other large scale scientific methods for effective cleaning, but as responsible citizens we can make the effort of taking small steps. One can start with not dumping waste in or around the water body and prevent other people from the same, organize garbage drives to clear at least the banks and the river beds. These may be small steps for the citizens, but they can really help turn tables and create an awareness for those pretending that the issue doesn’t exist at all. It’s time we wake up, and make it seen, heard and felt before it is too late.

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