Mumbai When the Western Naval Command (WNC) of the Indian Navy headquartered at Mumbai turned 50 years old, the organisation decided to celebrate the landmark with programmes promoting the protection of the natural environment. From 100% segregation of trash, recycling of reusable waste, reducing plastic use and encouraging renewable energy, the protectors of India’s seas looked inward. “The impact of human activities and the impact of pollution on our ecosystem has been a cause of concern for many years. Concrete steps are required to mitigate this hazard,” said vice-admiral Girish Luthra, flag officer commanding-in-chief of the WNC.Stressing on cleanliness, beautification, and environmental consciousness, Luthra said, “Our motto – ‘Ab swachchata ki baari, hum sabki zimmedaari’, means it is our responsibility to ensure our environment is protected.”Established on March 1, 1968, the WNC is the largest Command of the navy with its fleet of warships including the iconic Indian Navy Ship (INS) Vikramaditya, submarine pens, base depot ships, dockyards and almost 36,000 personnel. In what is one of the largest waste collection and removal drive by any organisation along the west coast, WNC has removed 2,466 tons of scrap material from their headquarters, dockyard and residential spaces over the past year. “The material has been collected by appointed contractors, further dismantled and can be reused,” said a WNC officer. Ninety-nine abandoned vehicles have also been removed to free up dockyard spaces.The WNC also developed 37.53 acres of green areas and open spaces at their Mumbai headquarters with naval officers having planted 9,880 saplings with a survival rate of 85%. Taking note of the state-wide plastic ban implemented in March this year, all plastic articles under the ban are strictly prohibited across all naval bases along the west coast.“We did this by zoning dockyards and residential areas. Five zones (A to E) were developed with naval officers overseeing all environmental activities in each zone,” said Luthra.A solid waste management model developed by WNC witnesses the daily collection of five tons of segregated garbage, just from Mumbai. “Wet waste is disposed of completely from the US Club in Colaba [a recreational space for the defence forces] through organic waste composting,” another officer said. The WNC plans to replicate this model across all its naval stations.Apart from switching to LED lights that have resulted in cutting down bills by ₹1.75 crore, naval bases will soon be adopting solar energy across three areas in Mumbai – Karanja, Bhandup, and Malad – with an estimated capacity of 3.85 megawatts. “The idea is to cut down the amount of coal consumption. With 1,200 vehicles moving within residential and the dockyard areas daily, activities like carpooling have been initiated to reduce vehicular emissions,” Luthra said.