5. Meeting Rishi Aggarwal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the evening of 21 March 2011, I met Environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal at Infinity, Andheri West, Mumbai. (7: 30 pm – 8:00 pm)

Rishi is Joint secretary at Mangrove Society of India (Mumbai Chapter). He has been involved with environment related issues for almost a decade. Earlier he was a full time activist. Presently he also works at Centre for Sustainable Transport to support himself.

For the half an hour that we talked, the following areas were touched upon-

Nomenclature:

Mithi is a river, not a gutter. It had sweet water running earlier. This needs to be communicated to the people.

Why it floods?

Human activity has to be kept outside the floodplain. This simple logic has been disregarded by the people, government and the developers.

People participation:

Our culture is to be blamed for the sorry state of affairs. It has not inculcated in people, the attitude of involving in things beyond their personal needs. ‘mera fayda hove, baaki gaya bhaad main ‘ mentality exists. But people participation is necessary for things to change because in a democracy, numbers count. People need to realize that their existence strongly depends on the well being of the city. ‘Baki public ko padi nahi. Paper main bhi Bombay times ya cricket score padhte hain’. The people should have a strong sense of ownership towards the city. They should have knowledge of public policies and should start questioning their elected representatives.

Government Authorities:

Floods are opportunities for the Politician-contractor nexus to build walls. The measures taken by the authorities lack ecological understanding. They are applying engineering solutions that do not work. Rishi also spoke critically of certain suggestions provided by Indian Institute of Technology.

Navi Mumbai Airport:

Diverting the Mithi River resulted in on July 26, 2005. Now they want to alter the course of Ulve and Gadhi for the ambitious Navi Mumbai airport project. Rishi said that he has kind of given up on trying to convince them otherwise. The authorities are turning a blind eye to the warnings. He says, I will take it as an experiment now and make note of the implications of the airport that will come up and compare notes in the years to come.

He ended with saying that while earning a living is necessary, doing it with a conscience is important.

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I would like to quote Rishi from the video of wild river dance which I got from Mr. Janak Daftary. ” In a city like Mumbai where people are so cut off from nature, it is very easy to believe that yes we dont need nature”

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