9.Talking to women in the Mumbai Local

A majority of the facts I found out during research were new to me. And I felt most others wouldn’t know about them either. But I could not just blindly make assumptions that everyone is as ignorant as me. So I decided to ask around. I needed to see the awareness level of people towards local water bodies and how updated they were with news related to the river Mithi.

On March 21, 2011 on my way to meet Miss Pallavi Latkar, I randomly started conversation with a few women in the train. It was the 3:19 pm Vasai- Andheri Local, Second class compartment.

I asked them questions like How many rivers does Mumbai have? Have u heard of the river Mithi, Do you about the condition of the river Mithi and the measures taken by the Government? I also asked them to describe their experiences during the floods in 2005.

Amongst the eight women I chatted with, one middle aged lady Miss Reshma Chavan could name Mithi and Dahisar River. Three of them attempted to guess the number but could not name them while four of them were clueless about it.

On mentioning the river Mithi, few of them realized they had heard of it. About three of them knew it before the 2005 Mumbai floods, about two after the floods and three of them did not know Mithi at all. And about its condition about 3-4 of them had some idea because of what they read in the newspapers and very little was known about measures taken by the authorities. Miss Reshma Chavan again was one of the most informed.

About experiences during the floods, four of them said that they were safe at home while three of them were stuck at different places.

One insight that I got during my conversation was how many people cannot see the connection or dependence of their well being on nature.

One young girl, Shaba, had to spend an entire night in the bus that was stuck while it poured outside before she managed to reach home the next day, again walking through dirty water. But among all the women I talked to, she could not name any rivers, not even Mithi, and was unaware of its condition. Inspite of having suffered, she was unaware of the cause of her sufferings.

This again confirms the need to make people see the connections that I talked about in the previous post.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

I would like to quote Mr Rajendra Singh (Waterman of India and recipent of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community leadership) from Gautam Kirtane’s study published by ORF Mumbai. He says-
” Our rivers are dying. We, the educated ones, still remain ignorant of the repercussions of their death on our health and quality of life. Today, there s not a single river in all of India whose waters may be considered fir for drinking. They have all been reduced to dirty nallahs.

I have no desire to curse the people of Mumbai, but it appears as if the people of Mumbai are dead. There is no life left in their hearts and mind. They do not feel pain of the Mithi river, in which the abyss between life and lifeless is plain to see. Mumbaiites do not dare to question their politicians. So long as we continue to glorify them without holding them accountable, our rivers will continue to die.”

(Photo courtesy: http://www.treehugger.com)

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