Let's seize the moment, Bombay

Updated: Jun 29, 2020, 08:06 IST | Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

As we step into unlock mode, let's not forget those calming images of clear blue skies, dolphins caressing the waters of the Arabian Sea and those riotous pink carpet shows. The pandemic taught a valuable lesson about the healing that Bombay so despe

Flamingoes at the Sewri mudflats in May. Pic/Ashish Raje
Flamingoes at the Sewri mudflats in May. Pic/Ashish Raje

Fiona FernandezI still recall those aerial photos of dolphins being spotted off the coast of Bombay. It caused a serious splash on social media platforms. Soon enough, everyone and their grandfather were sure that this was the first time the city had witnessed such a phenomena. Thankfully, greens stepped in to remind all of us that the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin has been a resident of our waters for a long time. So much for these armchair naturalists' claims! Next, we were treated to stunning frames and videos of flamingos spreading their pink carpet trail along our eastern waterfronts. Sure, they do make their annual trips but this time seemed special. Even observers swore that their numbers had risen this year.

Then, there were the bird calls and visits too, from species big and small. SoBoites were in for a special treat when the national bird decided to drop by several tony neighbourhoods. It was all too amusing at some level to read reactions of these 'wild' sightings. Homes closer to the Aarey forest and Sanjay Gandhi National Park recorded plenty of avian activity, as well as frames of herds of grazing deer from their balconies.

Panoramic views of clear blue skies and glistening sun-kissed waters of the Arabian Sea made it all too difficult to believe that this was Bombay. Spotlessly clean promenades and empty roads were a sight to behold. It seemed surreal; eerily calm and too quiet for Maximum City.

But we are inching back to our old selves, and as the city unlocks, these scenes might get less and less visible. Traffic jams, garbage piles, and a few of the familiar streetside culprits [spitting champions] are back. So, how can a city that was able to heal to some extent, use this time as a springboard to become a cleaner, healthier and environmentally sensitive city?

For one, our decision makers ought to seize the momentum caused due to the pandemic and lockdown, to instill basic awareness about civic sense. Stricter rules and tougher fines ought to be implemented by hard-nosed law enforcers for littering and spitting. Public health budgets must be relooked at on a war-footing. We have all been witness to how the city's medical infrastructure faced challenge after another while coping with the novel Coronavirus.

On the other hand, our green lungs within and around the city need all the protection they can get. Last heard, Aarey Forest was again under threat with more land set to be taken away by the land shark lobby. This is a worrying sign. In a city that is gasping for breath, the lockdown showed all of us the switches that need to happen to give it that all-urgent healing touch.

It's a long, intimidating wish list that we're hoping for. But a start needs to be made somewhere. Let's hope that the gods in power sense this opportunity, act on it, and give us reason to believe that we can look at a cleaner and greener Bombay by adopting better civic sense and preserving our natural reserves.

Honestly, if not now, pray when?

mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana
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