Mumbai group clears 10,500 kg trash from waterfalls, pitches for a policy
The initiative by the group has inspired even municipal bodies.Updated: Oct 03, 2020, 11:33 IST
45 volunteers from Mumbai-based environment group Environment Life along with a team from the Navi Mumbai municipal corporation (NMMC) removed 240 kg of trash on Friday from the Shiravane waterfall in Nerul, Navi Mumbai, completing their 13th waterfall cleanup drive since 2016.
The group has so far removed 10,500 kg trash comprising non-biodegradable items such as liquor bottles, thermocol plates, plastic spoons, packaged water bottles, wafers packets, footwear, clothes etc. from 18 waterfalls in the Mumbai metropolitan region (MMR) over the past four years. The group includes residents of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Vasai-Virar, and Thane in the age group of 12 to 65 years.
The group has requested the Maharashtra tourism development corporation (MTDC) for developing a waterfall tourism policy including waste management at these sites.
“Areas, where we have conducted cleanups, are all within a two-hour drive from the city and accessible to Mumbaikars. Though, they are famous picnic spots and weekend getaways, the trash left behind after such outings is a major problem,” said Dharmesh Barai, head coordinator, Environment Life.
“Villagers are often harmed by broken glass bottles and so are animals, which, while grazing, eat up the garbage. The local pristine environment around these waterfalls turns into garbage dumpsites,” added Barai.
Environment Life began its waterfall cleanup drive on October 2, 2016, across six waterfalls - Pandavkada (in Kharghar), Zenith (Khopoli), Aanandvadi, Jummapatti, and Tapalwadi (in Neral), and Chichoti (in Vasai), collecting 1,420 kg trash in 71 bags. On December 18, 2016, they removed 1,000 kg of trash from Kondeshwar waterfall in Badlapur. Their highest collection was during their third drive at Bhivpuri waterfall at Karjat, where 2,500 kg of trash was collected in 120 bags.
“Thereafter, the drive continued during the monsoon months when maximum trash accumulation took place,” said Barai. Last year, the group collected 1,050 kg trash from Vadap waterfall in Karjat and another 220kg in August from Aadai waterfall in Panvel in October.
Overall, a total of 502 bags of garbage has been collected over the past 4 years and waste segregated with the help from local municipal bodies and volunteers.
“Useful materials were shared for reuse while remaining waste was sent to landfills,” said Barai.
What’s more, the group has now taken on mangrove patches near TS Chanakya wetlands in Navi Mumbai where they have so far removed 1,800 kg of waste with help from volunteers, school students, and NMMC officials.
Babasaheb Rajale, deputy municipal commissioner (solid waste management), NMMC said, “With the perspective of Swachh Bharat, we will support any cleanup efforts that are genuinely focused towards improving environmental conditions around us. From supporting volunteers by providing them with vehicles, machinery, equipment and personnel to being physically present on-site, we will ensure Navi Mumbai and surrounding areas are declared the cleanest not only in Maharashtra but across India.”
Meanwhile, Environment Life’s submissions to MTDC for the waterfall tourism policy include ideas like putting up signboards, information and instruction boards to describe the importance of a particular waterfall, toilets and changing room facilities, dustbins, monitoring, ban on liquor consumption, parking facilities and gate fee collection at every waterfall.
“The money can be used for cleanliness and infrastructure development for a better tourism experience. Local villagers will get employment opportunities and will ensure that such areas remain protected during the off season as well,” said Barai.
Ashutosh Salil, managing director, MTDC said, “The group’s efforts are absolutely commendable and we welcome their suggestion for waste management at all tourism places. We will have to start working closely with the local bodies, mostly gram panchayats, where ever these waterfalls are located for waste management.”
A member of MTDC’s directorate said they would consider the suggestions received and the feasibility of establishing a waterfall cleanliness policy for Maharashtra.