Dhanya Nair

Mumbai Two days after NGOs in the city undertook the Mithi yatra, under the leadership of the Waterman of India, Rajendra Singh, 30 students from standard 8th and 9th of Gopal Sharma International School, Powai undertook the Yatra to study the condition of the river.

The students on Tuesday visited the Filterpada embarkment area, Powai, to understand the economic, environmental, health, educational, and geographical benefits of the river. The visit was part of their Environmental Studies (EVS) curriculum and was led by the school’s EVS teachers and environmentalists.

“We have a chapter on waste management in our syllabus. We have heard a lot about Mithi river, considered as a key drainage system of the city and its shoddy condition because of the constant garbage piling in and around the area. Though we have read a lot about it in our classes, the enormity of the situation struck us only when we visited the site,” said a class IX student, Avni Khandelwal.

According to the Principal, Gool Ghadiali field trips rather than classroom learning goes a long way in teaching students about environmental crisis. “The best way to learn about ecosystems in the city is to actually go out and visit the spots. Classroom learning pales in front of field trips. Hence we encourage such visits every year,” said Ghadiali.

“The Mithi spot was selected this year because it has been in news for a very long time. We usually encourage our students to participate in current affairs and this is one way to make sure that they succeed in knowing the ground realities of an issue,” added Ghadiali.

The students said that the trip brought them closer to the state of Mithi. They now plan to undertake steps to do their bit in order to save the river. “Only after the 2006 deluge we came to know about Mithi through media reports. We understood how constant garbage dumping around the area had worsened its condition. The trip was an eye-opener,” said Shruti Modak an eighth standard student.

“We also realised that people around the Mithi slum who have been blamed for dumping did so because of lack of awareness. Hence our next step is to spread awareness in and around the area about the importance of the river,” added Modak.

Elsie Gabriel, Founder President of Young Environmentalists Programme Trust said, “Needless to say Mithi is a very important storm water drainage system which has been reduced to a garbage dumping ground. This has resulted in all sorts of environmental problems for the city. But unfortunately, the students in the city are not aware of this issue. Our plan was to engage them in order to make sure that Mithi gets a fresh lease of life for the coming generations.”

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