Save our seas: Citizens come together for the Clean Harbour Project

Updated: Nov 15, 2019, 08:03 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

A Clean Harbour Project initiative at the Colaba precinct is about roping in all stakeholders to clean the waters off Apollo Bunder.

The Water Garbage Scooper demonstration at Jetty 5. Pics/ Atul Kamble
The Water Garbage Scooper demonstration at Jetty 5. Pics/ Atul Kamble

Mumbai's Clean Harbour Project (CHP) that was started in January this year to reduce garbage and plastic disposal in the sea off Apollo Bunder, got a further push on Thursday afternoon, as citizen warriors decided to up the ante when it comes to saving our seas.

A number of organisation representatives, from the non-profit Jyoticare Benevolent Foundation, which started CHP with the aim to clean the Apollo Bunder Harbour waters of all plastic waste that gets washed towards the jetties at Gateway of India and shores of Colaba, Royal Bombay Yacht Club (RBYC) representatives, Bombay Port Trust honchos and students from Little Flower of Jesus school, member school of the Children's Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) came together at a programme on Thursday opposite the Gateway.

Commodore Subhash G (retd) who was host for the meet, which saw a number of Colaba residents in attendance, started off saying people should be, "disturbed by the plastic and garbage in the sea and it should be a spur to action."

It was evident that this was a meet when numbers were going to speak louder than words. Jyoti Singh of CHP said, "Our oceans are in distress. I learnt from the Internet that an entire garbage truck of plastic enters our seas across the world, every minute." Singh pointed to the sight of floating garbage everywhere in the waters, "when one goes sailing off Apollo Bunder. We are launching a Water Garbage Scooper (WGS) today, which will aid in the cleaning up of the sea." Singh also held up specially designed posters creating awareness of plastic and garbage disposal which will be pasted on to the 100-odd ferries in operation.

Usage patterns

The RBYC's Capt. Homi Motivala said, "We need to create massive awareness as a first step. Plastic is relatively cheap. It also takes a lot of time to degrade in water. For instance, one plastic bottle takes 450 years to degrade in the water," said Motivala as his audience gasped. That statistic along with others like, "discarded plastic fishing nets taking approximately 650 years to degrade in the seas," Motivala added, is a pointer that, "problems we create today will stay for a very, very long time to come."

StreetThe children perform a street play

There was more number crunching as Motivala claimed that, "one study says that by 2050 the weight of plastic in the oceans will be more than the weight of all the marine life in the seas. We need to change our consumption and disposal patterns of plastic. I am heartened at the sight of children here, who are going to perform a street play on the importance of correct disposal methods. They are the vehicle through which we can educate people, and they are the future."

Student stake

It was fitting then, since it was Children's Day, for a group of schoolchildren from the CMCA to act in a streetplay about the hazards of plastic and garbage to marine life and the environment. They earned a healthy round of applause after which, deputy chairman MbPT (Mumbai Port Trust) Yashodhan Wanage, spoke saying, "we treat our country like a dustbin. It is telling that 65 years after Independence, our Prime Minister has to spread the message of Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan." The deputy chairman added, "every day the Port Trust clears 3,000 kg of plastic from the Port area. We clear 400 kg of plastic daily from the Harbour area. It is important we have a street play like this every week, for the tourists here," he finished. As the event wound down, the crowd moved to the promenade to watch the garbage grabber or Water Garbage Scooper in action. There was also a demonstration of a water cleaning drone, operated by remote, which removed garbage and plastic from the sea. While the technological aids were interesting it is evident that these are just adjuncts to the real solution which lies in the sea change (pun intended) of mindset of citizens of this metropolis.

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