Early this month, finally, we bade farewell to MV Wisdom which ran aground at Juhu Beach four weeks ago. All I could think of was that it was one problem gone.
Nonetheless, one of the most romanticised stretches of Mumbai is going through its yearly crisis. Once known for its sandy shores and idyllic picnic spots, the beach is now in shambles.
Come May-end and the ocean becomes pregnant with refuse. Experiencing severe morning sickness, it begins to cough up all the trash it can no longer contain. Still, no one seems to care. Our oceans are raped repeatedly, but very few are concerned.
The effects of this molestation are becoming more and more apparent as we turn our backs to these eco-crimes.
Communities that work or are dependent on this beach are distressed. Fishermen complain that their catch has dwindled, the lifeguards who work at the shore, get paid little and are overworked. Cleaners walk the entire length of the beach, sometimes twice a day, bending their backs to collect rubbish just as a man talking on his Blackberry phone tosses a bag full of flowers into the sea. That is what it is — refuse. And the sea regurgitates it.
For years, Juhu beach has enthralled all those who come to its vast sandy shores to spend a day; playing in its usually calm waters or digging their toes in its soft sands. But now it seems that you may be digging your toes into a used condom or it might mean you may loose them to shards of glass from used alcohol bottles.
Dipping your feet into its waters may give you severe skin allergies or even respiratory illnesses. But it doesn’t seem to bother anyone!
The state of the beach is nothing less than an ecological disaster. The authorities responsible have clearly turned their backs on this issue because they continue to treat the symptoms without really being interested in a cure! Could it be because treating symptoms is beneficial to many enterprises and entities, large and small? Are solutions that difficult to find?
It makes one wonder if there will ever be a collective will of people unwilling to take any more complacency. Because, this beach and others like it, are areas of ecological diversity, provide livelihood to communities, are areas of recreation and enjoyment and they need to be preserved.
These days, taking a stroll on the beach is like walking through a dump yard filled with tonnes of plastic, glass, metals and dead sea creatures — from shrimps to green sea turtles. And young children playing naked in this toxic dump is a worrisome sight.
Death, degradation and disaster are apparent all around the beach.
Can we not forget for once where we are from, be it Bandra, Juhu, Colaba or Kandivli, and just come together as a force determined to resurrect a depleting stretch that’s yours as much as it is mine?
(Tanur Shah, 25 , is a Juhu resident)