In a city where the paucity of green and open spaces is felt most acutely, we have a special duty to preserve whatever little there is. It is shameful then, to read that the verdant 37-acre Maharashtra Nature Park (MNP) in Dharavi is being laid to waste, one sackful of scrap at a time.
A report in this paper stated yesterday that tonnes of trash have been dumped on a five-acre plot on the eastern boundary of the woodland. The trash comprises empty glass bottles, rags and plastic waste and over 90 truckloads of it will have to be removed to clear the land.
In all this, the finger of blame is pointing squarely at some local traders of a nearby slum, who are using the park as a scrap storage. Here, though, the focus should not be who did it, but why it was allowed to happen in the first place, and what remedial measures need to be taken to avoid a recurrence.
First of all, 90 trucks of scrap cannot accumulate overnight. This has happened over a long period of time, so why were there no alarm bells earlier? Was nobody keeping a watch on the rapidly accumulating trash on the boundary? Does the park have security? Officials on record have stated numerous problems in tackling the garbage nightmare. From skeletal manpower to confusion over who should take responsibility for cleaning up the land, obstacles abound. There is also the fact that barricading the park with tin sheets is just a stop-gap solution. Tin sheets are easily breached and security will need police protection from thugs using the park as a garbage bin. They will be hopelessly outnumbered in a confrontation, and things could take a violent turn.
A lasting and permanent solution is a solid wall around the periphery. The report states that work for that will begin post-monsoon, hopefully after a massive clean-up operation. Do not just blame those in power. This is also about people who have no conscience or civic sense and defile a park in this heinous way. The shame should outweigh the blame on overburdened authorities.