Tired of living with the stench of rotting garbage near his Malad (W) home, Jay Verma last year decided to inspect the cause of his misery. He walked up to the mangrove patch behind his building and discovered that piles of garbage and carcasses had been dumped there.
The sight made Verma, a freelance writer, resolve to do something about the problem. Thus was born the Malad Creekside Advance Locality Management (ALM) comprising residents who got together to fight against the dumping of garbage on mangroves in their neighbouring creek.
The residents seem to have done their homework. Alleging that an illegal garbage segregation centre has sprung up beside the creek, they reeled off a 2005 Bombay high Court order that prohibited garbage segregation within 50 mt of mangroves. “The civic body is openly violating the order,” claimed Verma.
The ALM has filed several complaints with the ward officer but no action has been taken. “I filed eight applications under the Right To Information Act asking about the dumping, but received no clear reply,” said Bithan Chandra, 64, a retired engineer and social activist.
But the group of 600 determined individuals from Mindspace, Interface and Evershine Grander complexes in Malad haven’t given up. They have planted more than 3,000 trees along the creek to create awareness about the disappearing mangroves. They have organised drives to remove garbage from the area.
“We also educate our domestic helps since they reside in huts close to the mangroves and are unaware of the harm their careless dumping of garbage can cause,” said Shubha Baranwal, 43, a homemaker and active member of the ALM.
Yet, residents complained of an increase in the number of asthma cases and allergic coughs. Baranwal, an asthma patient, said her health has deteriorated in the past year.
“Unfortunately people do not realise the importance of these mangroves. The mangroves are the wall between the sea and us. If the mangroves are wiped out, humans will be defenceless against any natural calamity,” said Balakrishan Baranwal, 49, a software engineer.