THE BRIHANMUMBAI Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s decision to remove trash booms installed at nine nullahs last month to enable free flow of rainwater into the sea, has proved as problematic as the garbage traps.
Trash booms are nets made of acid resistant fibre that serve the purpose of keeping garbage thrown into drains and other waterways from floating into the sea.
Their removal allowed an undetermined amount of plastic bags, bottles, thermocol and other waste to make its way into the sea. In the last few weeks, furious high tide waves have thrown them back to the land.
The BMC had installed trash booms in June before the monsoon, but ward officers were asked to remove them after the July 2 downpour as they were curbing the flow of water into the sea.
Within days, BMC workers in yellow raincoats swept Marine Drive in driving rain through the day, collecting heaps of garbage on the promenade, which were later carried off by municipal garbage collection vehicles.
Since then, it has been a daily occurence, not just on the city’s premier seaside walkway, but across Mumbai, with the waves showing a mirror to the city’s denizens.
Last weekend, the high tide deposited 427 metric tonnes (MT) of waste across seven beaches and promenades.
On Saturday and Sunday, the waves threw back 22 MT waste along Marine Drive promenade, which is 22 times the garbage collected from the area daily. There were similar scenes at other seashore areas — 288 MT waste washed up at Juhu-Versova beaches, 80 MT at Dadar-Mahim, 20 MT at Gorai and 17 MT at Girgaum Chowpatty.
Along with garbage, trash booms were blocking the flow of water, which in turn led to flooding. We got orders to remove them during the monsoon period. The trash needs to be periodically collected, said V Khandkar, chief engineer from the BMC’s storm water drain department.
Experts said waste that might be floating in the middle of the sea washed ashore because of intense wave action. The bigger the waves, the heavier the items they can carry and dump. There is no immediate solution to this, we (residents and BMC) have to stop the garbage from going into the sea. Around 60 per cent of untreated waste is entering the sea, during high tide and strong winds from the sea to the land throws away all the garbage, said Shaunak Modi, member, Marine Life of Mumbai.
Civic officials said the garbage collected over the two days had a high quantity of thermocol and plastic bags, bottles and tetra packs. They added that though this was an annual affair, the civic body had not conducted any study on the contents of the waste material, which might have better equipped it to address the problem.
The BMC has undertaken various measures to stop residents from throwing garbage directly into nullahs or storm water drains from deploying clean-up marshals at nullahs, where the condition is severe to installing CCTV cameras to penalising those who throw garbage. But none of the measures have worked so far, officials added.