Mumbai's Gateway of India lies in a sorry state

Oct 12, 2013, 09:01 IST | Varun Singh and Chetna Yerunkar

MiD DAY visits the World Heritage Site to find illegal hawkers plying their wares freely; tourists and citizens enjoy their time by the sea, drinking, eating, and then dumping the plastic cups and trash right at the site.

Being a World Heritage site in the city isn’t all that cool. Moreoften than not, it means the site is completely neglected. Unfortunately, the most visible icon of the city, the Gateway of India, is getting the same treatment from its own citizens.

If you’re a regular visitor to the Gateway, you will know that people love to get their photographs clicked in front of the monument. The next thing on their to-do list is to sit on the seaside benches, sip some tea, have an ice cream, and throw all the plastic wrappers right on the footpath.

Saving our heritage: A team of MiD DAY staffers collected the garbage that was dumped at the Gateway of India and deposited it in the trash can. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

MiD DAY reporters visited the site yesterday and, seeing its sorry state, decided to clean up the mess, which included empty plastic cups, soft drink cans, ice-cream wrappers, candy sticks, and other forms of garbage.

When MiD DAY reached the spot at 4 pm yesterday, it was dirty with plastic cups and garbage strewn all over. Within 20 minutes, the reporters managed to collect 300 items, including plastic cups and other waste materials thrown around. The team then proceeded to put the garbage in the dustbin outside the Gateway of India premises.

Dirty picture: Visitors at the Gateway of India enjoy their time by the sea. Of course, in the process, they dirty the premises by throwing cups and wrappers. Pics/Datta Kumbhar

Strangely the ever-supportive Mumbaikar didn’t lend our team a helping hand, except for one or two people. Most were amused that they were collecting garbage, and some clicked the team’s pictures.

According to the rules, hawkers are prohibited from entering the premises of the Gateway of India. The entry has a check post manned by officers from Colaba police station. Each visitor is inspected before he enters the area.

CLEAN-UP act: MiD DAY reporters pick up the litter

However, hawkers still manage to get easy access inside and are seen serving tea, ice cream and other such eatables. People casually walk about, eating and drinking tea, and consequently dumping the cups at the premises .

TEA-ing off: A vendor sells tea to tourists near Gateway of India. Despite police presence at the check post and a ban on hawking, the peddlers still manage to do their business freely

The premises also have a small office of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which is responsible to keep the area clean. But during MiD DAY’s visit, there was nobody from the BMC’s cleaning office at the spot. Officials say dustbins are not allowed on the premises due to security reasons. Even the police seemed least bothered, with the presence of hawkers inside the area. 

300 No of items, including plastic cups and wrappers, that were picked up by the MiD DAY reporters.

What the officials say
I will be sending my men to the spot to get rid of the hawkers, as the area is out of bounds for vendors and hawkers. Also, the Solid Waste Management department would be asked to clean up the area, as it is a prime tourist location. The proposal of buying new bins, made of perforated steel that would make it easierto identify the content, is already with the Standing Committee.
Mohan Adtani, Additional Municipal Commissioner

Hawkers and vendors are not at all allowed in the area. But despite issuing a prohibitory order, they sneak in. Most of the time, our men are present at the spot to keep hawkers at bay, or evict them as soon as they enter the premises. But the hawkers operate at a time when they are inside the office.
Padmakar Juikar, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Colaba Division

With MiD DAY bringing the issue to our notice, we will ask BMC to take kthis matter seriously and clean-up the place soon, as it is their duty to do so. The civic body must take necessary action against the hawkers. In addition, even chocolates should be prohibited from the area, as people dispose of the wrappers, littering the place.
V Ranganathan, Chairperson, Heritage Committee

The BMC should make littering punishable around historical structures. They should patrol the area to keep hawkers, or any kind of illegal activity, at bay. The civic body must clean such places regularly.
Abha Narain Lamba, Conservation Architect

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