Underscoring the importance of rivers in the life of urban areas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged various cities to organise annual 'River Festivals' and create awareness among the masses.
Such river festivals - common in some European, African and South American nations - could create a new awareness about the importance and preservation of these important lifelines and inculcate the value of each drop of water on human beings, he said at the foundation stone ceremony for the ambitious Rejuvenation and Pollution Abatement of Mula-Mutha River projects in Pune, taken up under the Centre's National River Conservation Plan and the development of a River Front on the lines of Sabarmati River Front in Ahmedabad.
The project is being implemented on the concept of 'One City, One Operator' at a cost of Rs 1,470 crore including construction, operation and maintenance for 15 years.
The rejuvenation of the Mula-Mutha River shall be carried out along a 9-km stretch with major works like river edge protection, interception sewage network, public amenities, boating activity, etc.
A total of 11 sewage treatment plants will be constructed with a capacity of around 396 MLD with a 55 km long sewage carrier pipeline, while the Pune Municipal Corporation will implement a River Front Development Project.
The project is funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with a completion target deadline of 3 years by a JV comprising Enviro Control Pvt Ltd of India and Japan's Toshiba Water Solutions Pvt Ltd.
Japanese Ambassador to India Suzuki Satosi, and JICA Chief Representative in India Saito Mitsunori attended the event.
Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said that the project would improve the water quality in three Pune rivers - the Mula, Mutha, and Mula-Mutha - by augmenting sewage collection systems and sewage treatment facilities in the civic jurisdiction, before the rivers flow into the Bhima River.
It would also include other pollution control measures like improved sanitation and living conditions of the people in Pune and in the watershed of the downstream area, he said.
In 2014, Pune generated 728 MLD of sewage while the total treated sewage was barely 476 MLD, with over 250 MLD discharged directly in the Mula, Mutha and Mula-Mutha Rivers, resulting in severe pollution.
The three Pune rivers earned the dubious distinction of being among the 35 most polluted in the country by the Central Pollution Control Board, but with the new rejuvenation project launched today, the situation would improve, said officials.