600kg trash removed from waterfall near Mumbai in clean-up drive
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600kg trash removed from waterfall near Mumbai in clean-up drive

90% trash at Palasdhari waterfall was alcohol bottles; volunteers collected 5,720kg trash from nine waterfalls.

mumbai Updated: Jun 12, 2018 12:06 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Volunteers during the clean-up drive at Palasdhari falls on Sunday.(HT Photo)

Volunteers on Sunday removed 600 kilos trash left by picnickers at Palasdhari waterfall near Karjat in Raigad district.

For the past two years, members of the non-governmental organisation Environment Life have been cleaning up areas around waterfalls in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) where revellers leave trash. Sunday’s clean-up yielded 600kg of trash -- of which 90% was discarded alcohol bottles and the rest was plastic trash.

HT had reported in August that the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) had said that cleaning the waterfalls that are thronged by tourists during monsoon was important. The agency had said it had directed state government bodies to conduct an enquiry and take action regarding trash, especially alcohol bottles, being dumped at waterfalls located close to the city. But the volunteers said MTDC had done nothing to improve the situation in these areas.

“Glass bottles dumped near these waterfalls are both dangerous for tourists and local residents as they can lead to injuries, as well as destroy the aesthetic beauty of these places. We were shocked to find hundreds of alcohol bottles, plastic plates, spoons, glasses, packaged drinking bottles and so on. They were all branded products, which means they were left by the educated and affluent class. This is unacceptable behaviour and shameful on our part as citizens,” Dharmesh Barai, head coordinator, Environment Life.

Prior to Sunday’s clean-up, the NGO had removed 5,120kg of trash from eight waterfalls around the city. Located three kilometres from Karjat railway station, Palasdhari waterfall gets thousands of tourists, especially during the monsoon season due to its close proximity to Mumbai (65km). These waterfalls dry up after the monsoon.

In August 2017, then principal secretary, state tourism and culture department, Maharashtra, Nitin Gadre had said it was citizens’ efforts to ensure these areas remained cleaned. He had directed the home department, urban development department, village development department, MTDC Mumbai, water resources and sanitation department and revenue and forest department, to work in tandem to remove garbage from these areas under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan scheme.

“It is disappointing that a year after issuing such directions, the government has completely ignored the situation on ground. This tarnishes the motivation for us as a team for carrying out such activities in the future,” said Barai.

Tourism secretary promises action

When HT spoke to VK Gautam, principal secretary, state tourism and culture department, Maharashtra, he asked for pictures and details of all the clean-ups so far in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). “The responsibility of safety and cleanliness at these spots (waterfalls) belongs to the village panchayats. It is the responsibility of the local civic body to ensure that this trash is properly collected, segregated and dumped at designated sites. However, I will be taking stock of what is happening at each of these locations. I can promise you we will take this up on priority,” he said.

First Published: Jun 12, 2018 11:58 IST