Mumbai Local

Ganapati debris: citizens step up to clean beaches

CLEAN-UP JOB: Sahas Foundation volunteers clean Girgaum Chowpatty after the first phase of immersions. — PHOTO:SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

CLEAN-UP JOB: Sahas Foundation volunteers clean Girgaum Chowpatty after the first phase of immersions. — PHOTO:SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT  

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With the BMC struggling to clear immersion points of floral waste and idols, groups of volunteers have taken up the task

Dealing with the Ganesh festival immersion mess at the city’s beaches has been an annual headache for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). This year, the civic body is getting a helping hand from volunteers, who are stepping up to clean beaches along Mumbai’s 16-km coastline of idols and floral waste.

To clean beaches after idol immersions, the BMC has appointed contractors and support staff. An engineer with the BMC solid waste management department said nearly 85 support staff was deployed at the entrance points to beaches to segregate floral waste. “We have the capacity to compost up to 40 metric tonnes of waste. The rest will be taken to the dumping grounds,” he added. For cleaning post-immersion garbage, heavy machinery like forklifts is used instead of the usual beach-cleaning equipment.

To prevent Ganesh idols from washing ashore during low tide, the civic body has provided for six boats and pontoon [dock] each for small idols. “We take the small idols in groups and immerse them far from the shore,” he said. He added that fragments of large-size Ganesh idols washed ashore after immersion are collected by boat and re-immersed at deep sea in the night. The BMC and the courts have urged mandals to avoid procuring big idols, but few are adhering to this.

For concerned citizens, though, this was clearly not enough. The sight of beaches strewn with immersion waste has drawn volunteers from schools and colleges, such as the National Cadet Corps girls unit at Bhavan’s College, whose members began cleaning Juhu beach at 6 a.m. on September 7.

The large pile of idols collected by the NCC girls prompted their college vice-principal, Parvish Pandya, to post a picture of it on Facebook. The photo was shared over 120 times in less than a day. “We have been undertaking beach clean-ups after the fifth and seventh day of immersions annually,” Mr. Pandya said.

Sports instructor Pradip Patade will collaborate with WWF-India and Maharashtra Nature to clean Girgaum beach on September 11, a day after Gauri Visarjan. A local, Mr. Patade has been involved in cleaning Girgaum beach for 20 years. “Thankfully, this year, many are bringing clay idols and even fruit replica for immersion, but a lot still needs to be done,” he said.

Anand Pendharkar, founder-trustee at NGO Sprouts Environment Trust, started cleaning beaches around 12 years ago with a small team of eight volunteers. This year, about 33 volunteers have signed up to clean the beach with him from 6.30 am on September 16. At Versova beach, a team from the Versova Residents Association (VRA) is segregating plastic waste, mostly bags. “About 12 of us were at important points on Tuesday. This year, the beach is very clean after immersions due to timely efforts,” VRA's Afroz Shah said.

The writer is a freelance journalist

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 12:45:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/Ganapati-debris-citizens-step-up-to-clean-beaches/article14628906.ece

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