Chimbai, the 400-year-old beach Mumbai forgot all about
Mumbai city news: It was once a quaint fishing village. Today, the rocky Chimbai beach in Bandra is the city’s dirtiestmumbai Updated: Jul 05, 2017 09:49 IST
It was once a quaint fishing village. Today, the rocky Chimbai beach in Bandra is the city’s dirtiest, with plastic and household garbage washing ashore and getting stuck in the cracks and crevices.
What changed around this 400-year-old settlement that turned a sandy beach into a mini dump yard and has severely affected fishing — once the only occupation of its residents? “The village was dotted with just 20 houses that belonged to the fishing community. We have heard stories from our grandparents about the beach being sandy, as recent as 60 years ago,” said Bandra resident Vinnie Masceranas, 45.
Last year, Chimbai was declared Mumbai’s dirtiest beach, after NGO ReefWatch Marine Conservation carried out a survey of 10 beaches.
Members of one of the largest fishing communities said fishing activities had dropped by 98% in the past decade at Chimbai.
“Encroachments grew, the sand was removed for human activity and our fishing boats, which could once head to sea from Chimbai’s shores now get stuck in all the plastic,” said Damodar Tandel, president, Akhil Maharashtra Machimaar Kriti Samiti. “We need to go 3km into the sea to find fish now.”
The fishing village originally was just a kilometre long from St Andrews Church to Carter Road. “Population rose, the village grew. With nowhere else to throw waste, residents began dumping garbage at the beach or into the sea,” said Masceranas. Damian Cabral, a Chimbai village resident for 45 years, said municipal authorities paid little attention to cleaning it.
“It is only after residents urged BMC to look into the matter did the situation improve,” said Cabral. He said villagers have started a clean-up under Swacch Bharat Abhiyan. “We will restore it to its original glory.” In 2011-12, BMC appointed architect PK Das to develop a revamp plan. The BMC invested Rs4 crore for a Chimbai Beach Nourishment Plan. “No authority is interested to do any work even after sanctioning the project, but the plan was never formally dropped,” said Das.
“We need to first manage waste,” said Chandrakant Tambe, from solid waste management department.
(Inputs from Akash Sakaria)