In a bid to preserve lesser-known tourist spots close to Mumbai, a group of trekkers, students and locals formed teams to carry out a day-long clean-up drive and collected more than 1,000kg trash near six waterfalls on October 2.
The first of such clean-up initiatives, 250 volunteers from different citizen groups such as Environment Life, Sahyamitra Trekking Group from Vasai-Virar, students from the National Service Scheme (NSS), National Cadet Corps (NCC) and a few corporates conducted the drive.
They cleaned the Anandwadi, Jummpatti and Tapalwadi waterfalls in Nerul, the Zenith and Vasai–Chinchoti waterfalls in Khopoli and the Pandavkada waterfall in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai — all locations a little more than an hour’s drive from Mumbai.
“Our main intention was to highlight the beautiful tourist spots close to Mumbai, which are neglected as most people don’t know about them. The known ones are littered by tourists,” said Dharmesh Barai of Environment Life, who coordinated the clean-up.
“We also spread the message of preserving these ecologically-sensitive areas to locals that joined us during the drive,” he added. Their efforts were, however, slightly marred as several volunteers injured themselves on broken alcohol glass bottles that accounted for 80% of the total trash collected by the group.
“We had worn gloves during the clean-up, but the large amount of glass pieces that cut through our garbage bags led to injuries,” said Pawan Deshmukh, cleanup coordinator at Vasai.
Plastic bottles, wafer packets, straws, thermocol plates, spoons and even pieces of cloth were collected.Volunteers said that even after filling almost 45 large garbage bags from all six locations, only 10% of the trash was removed.
“We undertook the drive as a part of Prime Minister Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan but the government is the least concerned about areas that hold ecological importance and are home to large floral and faunal biodiversity,” said Barai. He added that the livelihood of several locals depended on tourism, which is slowly reducing in these areas.
The initiative received support from the State Pollution Control Board and local civic bodies from some of these locations.
“Drives such as these are a huge boost for the nationwide initiative of Swachh Bharat as they primarily focus on mass awareness and the idea of citizen-engagement. If other non-profit organisations, corporates and residents come forward to perform similar actions, it will help the government to identify and protect such areas (waterfalls) that will boost the state’s tourism.”
Sanjay Bhuskute, public relations officer, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.
Why should you care?
Garbage damages local ecosystems and is a threat to plant and animal life. Litter such as alcohol or plastic bottles can injure animals and other forms of trash, if consumed by them, might lead to fatal diseases.