Stop litter from gathering in nullahs, Mumbai activist tells BMC chief in letter

Updated: Nov 25, 2017, 20:35 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

While there is a lot of debate about the fact whether the clan up activity at Versova would begin or not after Environmentalist and Lawyer Afroz Shah has decided to stay away from the drive...

While there is a lot of debate about the fact whether the clean-up activity at Versova would begin or not after environmentalist and Lawyer Afroz Shah has decided to stay away from the drive, environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal has written a letter to BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta saying that the need of the hour is to focus on making sure that the plastic litter and other waste does not reach nullahs and water bodies because if the same is successful then there would not be a need to carry out a clean-up drive.

A clean-up drive in progress at Versova beach. File pic
A clean-up drive in progress at Versova beach. File pic

Speaking to mid day Rishi Aggarwal said, "The beach cleanup activity at Versova was started by me along with like-minded citizens between 2003 to 2006 but soon we realized that it will not be of much help because our target or aim should be to discourage people staying in the slums from throwing plastic litter in nullahs because it is through these water bodies that the garbage reaches the sea.

BMC needs to make sure that there is a proper garbage collection system in the slums along the nullhas and rivers in Mumbai. When such machinery will be in place, people will not throw anything into nullhas and this is the best way to solve the issue. Carrying out beach cleanup drives on weekends will only give fame to a few people. Already there is BMC machinery in place which does the clean-up activity at beaches and so this work will also continue."

The copy of the letter written by Aggarwal to Municipal Commissioner states, "As someone who has been involved with Mumbai’s waste management issues for over two decades now and worked closely with numerous stakeholders including very closely with MCGM. The current model of some citizens choosing to spend 3-4 hours on the weekends to lift garbage from the beach clearly is not a sustainable one. It may help create a lot of buzz and popularity but can clearly not solve the problem at the root.

For many years now I have been critical of the nullah desilting exercise of the MCGM and instead commented on the need to ensure that garbage, debris and various kinds of effluents do not find their way into the nullahs in the first place. Of course it is intuitive and even MCGM knows the same but we have seen little action on this matter. It is time to show some sincere action in reducing the high pollution levels in the wonderful sea surrounding Mumbai." states the letter.

Aggarwal also said that along with the help of like-minded citizens he is planning to map the rivers and nullhas in the city and the location where huge amount of litter is dumped. The details will be shared with the concerned BMC officials and the plan will be made for collecting garbage from the slum pockets along the rivers, nullahs and creeks so that people do not dump the waste or litter in the water bodies.

It should be noted that between 2000-2006 , 3-4 members of SAVE Forum worked closely with the K Ward office as well as the head office in helping remove the farmers who cultivated methi on the beach and also clean up the garbage from Versova beach. "In not a single instance did we lift the garbage ourselves and chose to collaborate with the government authority responsible for waste management. We worked closely with Bernard Wads from MCGM and others who mobilized the necessary men and machinery.

I would like to urge you to make a working group under the leadership of Deputy Municipal Commissioner Vijay Balamwar, which can provide a platform for collaboration among various stakeholders. The group would actively look at monitoring and be improving the waste management in the slum colonies surrounding the Oshiwara and Poisar River and the numerous nullahs which all form the veins of the Malad Creek.

"Thousands and maybe millions of tonnes of garbage thrown into these nullahs and rivers is what finds its way into the sea and eventually the beaches. Let us repair the leak and not mop the floor as the group Bombay 61 rightly observes. I am attaching a few pictures of the garbage in our nullahs." added Aggarwal.


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