Cleanliness Woes: Long Way Ahead for Girgaum Chowpatty
Step out of Charni Road station and the shimmering white sand of Girgaum Chowpatty awaits just a few metres down the way. It’s 10:30am, and the beach is spotless, barring the debris left strewn from the ongoing metro construction work.
A sweeper cleans up next to a wall that has the words, ‘Swachh Mumbai, Sundar Mumbai’, painted across it. Perhaps the only reason this seemingly clean beach still appears to be spotless is because of the diligent sweepers [appointed by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and private contractors], who clean up the place three times a day.
Adjacent to the wall, the Juna-sena Paan wala shop claims to witness close to 1,000 customers on the weekend, opens at 8 in the morning and closes at 12:30am.
Speaking of garbage segregation, the shop owner, Devesh Sharma, 30, says, “Our men sweep the area at least three to four times in a day. BMC and the [private] society sweepers also clean it quite often. We never segregated waste before, but now we do. There are two separate trucks to pick up dry and wet waste.”
Sharma, who has been running this stall for decades, is not wrong. Elaborating on the cleaning of the 1,000 metre long beach, a BMC officer says, “The cleanliness of the beach is maintained by contractors appointed by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) 24*7, with the help of beach cleaning machines that have the capacity to clean 20,000 sq metres per hour.” The “inaccessible areas” of the beach, he adds, are cleaned by deploying labourers in the morning, noon and night.
With no clean-up drives held this year (as per official records), the remnants of plastic, paper and polythene bags washed ashore continue to add to the scenic woes on a daily basis. Official statistics, as per BMC’s records, reveal that people coming to Girgaum Chowpatty beach generate 2 to 4 million tonnes (MT) of garbage in “fair season” and 6 to 8 MT in “the monsoons”. The problem of littering is still an ongoing battle at this Mumbai beach even with facilities such as 20 garbage bins of 120 liters being provided by the BMC.
Lamenting about the hygiene of the beach, a 25-year-old tourist, says, “We are from Delhi and also visited Goa. The beaches there are so beautiful unlike the ones here. Marine Drive and Juhu Chowpatty were the cleanest so far, but Girgaon Chowpatty is a bit disappointing.”
Even with all the back-breaking efforts of the sweepers and garbage collectors, having a spotless Girgaum Chowpatty, still seems like a long way ahead.
Other efforts by the BMC
Special supervisory staff has been appointed to supervise the day-to-day cleaning activities on the beach.
10 Nirmalaya Kalash are provided on the beach for people to deposit their individual Nirmalayas from households.
During Ganesh Chaturthi and other visarjan festivals, the BMC official says, “Extra labourers and (garbage) vehicles are deployed to maintain the cleanliness of the beach.”