World oceans day: After Versova, will these beaches in Maharashtra also get a clean-up?
Massive amounts of sewage and trash generated by Mumbaiites enter the sea daily. This garbage not only lands up at city beaches, but pollutes several tourist beaches along the western coast.
Though citizen-led beach clean-ups have made significant progress, a lot remains to be done. Garbage at beaches and lack of scientific waste disposal facilities still plague our city’s beaches. Mumbaiites’ health is adversely affected by both.
On world oceans day —which has been celebrated by the United Nations since 2008 — Hindustan Times identifies some of the dirtiest beaches outside the city limits, where the amount of trash accumulated is expected to increase during the monsoon.
This beach, located north of Alibaug, is almost 96 km from Mumbai by road and just 19 km by sea. A major tourist destination in Maharashtra, the beach is currently plagued by oil and chemical deposition and plastic pollution.
Non-governmental organisation Awaaz Foundation wrote to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, highlighting pollution at the beach. “There are regular oil spills at Kihim. Garbage and chemicals have been accumulating here for decades,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. “The district administration said they cannot plan for large quantities of garbage. Neither do they have a plan to collect regular household garbage,” she added.
Abdulali said several other beaches in Alibaug are in the same state.
Residents of Kihim Beach and Kamat village organised a clean-up and collected about 1,000 bags of garbage from a stretch of the beach. The garbage, which mainly comprised plastic and thermocol,, will be segregated and disposed of at an authorised location.
Pre-monsoon showers that hit the Konkan coast last week led to fresh trash being deposited on Uttan beach and Uttan virgin beach in Bhayander. The beaches, almost 24 km from Mumbai, are under the jurisdiction of the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation. While Uttan virgin is 800-m long, Uttan is a little more than a kilometre long.
“Uttan is a sandy beach. Trash and cement bags are deposited at some spots here. The ocean deposits a lot of plastic, mostly untreated domestic waste, on to the shore,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation.
He added that the trash travels through the creek, is deposited into sea and settles slowly at Kulvem, Manori, Gorai (all within city limits) and finally Uttan. “There is so much trash that it gets deposited at Dahanu beach, which is 110 km from Mumbai,” said Pimenta.
Large quantities of trash are dumped at this sandy beach located 35km from Mumbai, especially during the monsoon. “The marine environment bears the brunt of pollution along the coast. Beach sand, where marine organisms live, is constantly under attack as large quantities of plastic wash up on the shore daily,” said local fisherman Dileep Mathak. He clicked a photo of massive quantities of garbage strewn at the beach on Wednesday morning. “We are expecting conditions to worsen during the monsoon,” he said.
The carcasses of marine mammals have been washing up on Bhuigaon beach, part of Vasai beach, regularly over the past two years.
Residents of the fishing community alleged that dolphins and other marine mammals choke on plastic and die. “While some marine habitats around Mumbai have been completely destroyed, the little that is left in and around Vasai, is definitely unfit for survival,” said Mathak.
Almost two hours away from Mumbai, the Pali beach is 300-m long. This sandy beach is home to a number of resorts. However, environmental watchdogs said the tourist beach has fallen prey to plastic pollution discharged from Mumbai.
“This beach is a fishing village and residents say their catch of fish has been affected by plastic pollution. Fisherfolk are forced to travel into the deep seas. Earlier, fish were easily available near to the coastline,” said Pimenta. “Now their nets are catch only plastic,” he added.
This beach is an extension of Uttan towards the northern end and is spread across half-a-kilometre. Slightly secluded, the beach has neither crowds thronging it nor resorts being set up.
“Despite being cut-off from thickly populated beaches, Bhattebandar is one of the cleanest beaches near Mumbai. But, even this beach bears the brunt of untreated sewage and plastic, which travels from Mumbai’s shoreline and gets lodged here,” said Pimenta. “It is time for a massive clean-up movement along the entire coastline, from Mumbai to Dahanu, before it is too late to save our oceans,” he said.
“The marine outfalls along Mumbai’s coastline need waste to be scientifically treated. Plastic needs to be segregated at the source, according to the new waste handling rules. The methods of treating sewage needs to be enhanced. The state has tied up with Maharashtra Maritime Board. There is a ‘clean seas’ movement in motion across the state. The results will be reflect soon,” said a senior official from the state government.