Mumbai: Soon, turn in your waste plastic to get potable water from Mithi

In a unique project to clean up Mithi River and encourage people to dispose of their plastic responsibly, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has tied up with private entities to enable Mumbaikars to hand over their waste plastic and get potable water in exchange. Under the theme `Value Plastic for Water’, a customised solar operated machine from Finland will be installed on the river in Bandra Kurla Complex by next month, which will filter the river’s water and make it potable.

MMRDA on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with United Nations Technology Innovation Labs (UNTIL), Mumbai-based organisation Earth5R, VTT technical research centre of Finland and River Recycle Oy Finland to clean the marine debris floating in Mithi River.

"The world’s first such machine will be in the Mithi River, recycling polluted water for drinking purposes. Later, it will be installed in other countries like Thailand. It will filter the Mithi River water. A mobile application will be available, and people can turn in plastic and equivalent units of water will be filtered from the river for drinking purposes,” explained Saurabh Gupta, founder of Earth5R.

MMRDA Commissioner RA Rajeev said, “It's the first such partnership which has been signed to conserve Mithi. As until now, it was only on papers.

He explained, "There are two separate projects. First one is with the UNTIL, which will collect the floating waste from Mithi, and second is improving the water quality of the river by bio-engineering components as suggested by the Mumbai University in its report on a pilot project basis. The second work will be taken up by the MMRDA and it will cost approximately Rs 10 lakh."

In the MMRDA's pilot project the scope of work includes cleaning and restoring the contaminated river through use of bio-engineering technologies. To clean the water, make it odour free and create green ambience using sustainable native plant species such as Vetiver, in order to provide access to clean water, while minimizing the health hazards.

According to the MMRDA, the project will be implemented only on that stretch of river which is under their jurisdiction. Only 6 km of Mithi River stretch flowing from CST Bridge on SCLR to Mahim Creek is under MMRDA, of the total length of 17.84 km.

On the beautification plan of Mithi Riverfront at BKC, the commissioner said, "The river front of Mithi opposite MMRC (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation) office has some weed growth (wild growth) not mangrove or forest. It is a habitat of snakes. People can’t walk there, therefore it will be developed by Blackstone company under their CSR (corporate social responsibility) project."

Drone surveys for data collection and AI tools will be used for analysis and mapping. This project is for 18 months and will be funded by Huhtamaki for Rs 5 crore.

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