Hope Floats: Civic body to get buoyant garbage collectors
The floating machines will collect waste coming from major nullahs and the Mithi river before it enters the sea; one machine to be rented on pilot basis and placed near Irla pumping station
In an attempt to reduce the quantity of waste that washes up on beaches, especially at Juhu and Versova, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) K-West ward office plans to use floating garbage collectors.
These will collect the trash coming from major nullahs and the Mithi river, before it enters the sea. It was decided to use the floating garbage collectors after civic officials noted a sharp increase in the quantity of waste collected from Juhu beach this year in comparison to last year. The first machine will, however, be rented.
Increase in waste
Prashant Gaikwad, assistant municipal commissioner of K-West ward said, "The figures show that the amount of waste has increased significantly at Juhu beach. Apart from beach cleaning machines, we are planning to get the floating machines which can collect waste from major nullahs near the trash boons (barriers)." The modalities are yet to be figured out and a proposal will soon be made to the civic administration.
Gaikwad added that since the equipment is expensive, they are planning to first rent one of the machines on a temporary basis. "The machine costs around R2 crore. Since we can rent it for a monthly cost of Rs 14 lakh, we are planning to use it on a pilot basis first and then take a call," said Gaikwad. The machine will first be used near the trash boon set up near Irla pumping station.
Thanks to Afroz Shah
As part of an internal survey, officials from K-West collected figures for June, July and August since the quantity of waste is highest during the monsoon months. They found the scenario was better at Versova beach. After lawyer and activist Afroz Shah started the beach clean-up drive at Versova beach in October 2015, his efforts were visible in the figures between 2016 and 2017.
Shah said that the increase in the quantity of the garbage could be attributed to various reasons including changing ocean currents. "There was the Ockhi cyclone last year and just within a day, the beach, which was clean the previous day, was covered with garbage. Ocean currents keep changing and climate can affect the amount of waste that washes up on the beaches," he said.
'Civic body must research'
Rishi Aggarwal, an activist for proper solid waste management, feels the BMC must research the issue, which could provide better solutions. "The BMC hardly spends any money on research. Instead of cleaning the beaches, we need to work on the source of the problem. More than 50 per cent of Mumbai's population lives in slums and they throw their waste into the creeks and nullahs, because they have no waste collection or disposal systems," he said.
While experts feel that floating garbage collectors will help ease the situation, they feel that a lot more has to be done. Aggarwal agreed. "They will definitely be effective in removing floating garbage, but other measures will also have to be taken simultaneously to stop plastic pollution," said Aggarwal.
Shah too felt that people have to be educated about proper disposal of waste. "Majority of Mumbai's population lives in the human-ocean conflict zone, which leads to litter in the storm water drains. People living here have no training to handle plastic waste. We will have to make them understand what waste is," said Shah. He added that since the floating machines need to operate in still water, they will be effective in creek areas.
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