The health and future of our country is critically dependent on the health of our rivers. To compromise upon our rivers’ health is to endanger our own existence and future. Most of the urban rivers in Maharashtra are in poor state affected by problems like pollution, with little or no biodiversity, little or no flow during most of the year, encroachment, dumping of waste, concretization and sometimes even mining. Water pollution from Urban Industrial effluents is a serious problem for the river, floodplain as well as ground water. With unplanned development, as the floodplains and riverbeds are being encroached, we are experiencing increased intensity and frequency of floods and flash floods. This can lead to an increasing possibility of water scarcity, depletion of groundwater levels and drought in spite of rains.
With a vision of bringing back our rivers closer to their original natural state and to ensure flowing rivers with clean water over long term; INTACH Pune Chapter and SANDRP (South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People) are organizing a ‘Dialogue on Urban rivers of Maharashtra’ with the following objectives on 20-21 April 2018 at Yashada, Pune:
- To strengthen the efforts being taken by communities, individuals and groups against river pollution and river encroachments and for river conservation and rejuvenation,
- To understand legal provisions, governance and institutions related to rivers,
- To study the possible impact of ‘Urbanization’ or ‘Development’ on rivers.
- To understand the impacts of interventions like ‘River Front Development’ and ‘Commercial Navigation’
- To deliberate about Urban Water and River Policy
The dialogue will be among invitees active in the field of Urban Rivers from Maharashtra and also from elsewhere.
Some of the major outcomes of the dialogue is expected to bring out inputs for framework of a River Policy at State Level and formation of a network of individuals and groups towards the cause of our rivers.
The Dialogue will be inaugurated by Padmabhushan Prof Dr Madhav Gadgil. Waterman of India Shri Rajendra Singh, Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP, Arti Kirloskar from INTACH, Adv Vandana Chavan, Shri Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust, will be participating in the Dialogue among other activists and organizations working for the cause of rivers.
Mrs Arti Kirloskar, Patron of INTACH Pune Chapter said, “We are the earth. Its survival is our survival. Rivers are one of the most important life supporting part of our planet. It’s important to meet and strategise on how we can join hands and revive and rejuvenate it for ours and fellow living creatures interest.”
Mr Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP said, “Urban India is treating the rivers passing through them as pipeline for water, dumping ground for all kinds of sewage, industrial effluents and solid waste, its floodplain and riverbed as land available for encroachment. And then convert it to further money spinning, transferring the pollutants to the downstream and concretising the river channel, calling it River front development! This is not only un-smart, but an invitation to disaster. We need National Urban Water Policy in which the Sustainable existence of Urban Rivers have Key place. The Pune Dialogue, we hope, will be an important step in that journey.”
About INTACH: The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) established in 1984, is founded with the vision to create a membership organization to stimulate and spearheaded heritage awareness and conservation in India. INTACH is recognized as one of the world’s largest heritage organization, with over 180 chapters across the country. The Pune chapter was established in 1986 and has carried out significant projects for the city’s heritage.
About SANDRP: South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), set up in 1998, is an informal network working on issues related to rivers, communities and large scale water infrastructure like dams: their environmental and social impacts, their performance and issues related to governance of rivers and dams. Its work focuses on networking, awareness generation, dissemination and advocacy.
For further details:
Supriya Goturkar-Mahabaleshwarkar, Coordinator, INTACH PUNE CHAPTER, firstname.lastname@example.org
Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP 9968242798/ email@example.com
 An Urban River is essentially a river flowing in designated urban areas. A River includes many dimensions, including its flood plain, tributaries, biodiversity and also flow of water, silt, biota and nutrients in all its dimensions. Rivers are organic ecosystem entities. Only for the purpose of bringing sharper focus on the importance of Rivers in Urban context, we are talking about Urban Rivers here.