BARELY TWO weeks ago, Marine Drive was in the news, as the Victorian and Art Deco styled buildings on its other side had made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. On Friday, tonnes of garbage washed onto it for the second consecutive day, making the iconic promenade look like a dumpyard. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials said they collected around nine metric tonnes of garbage from the promenade on Friday.
“In July and August, high tide brings garbage from the sea onto the Marine Drive on four to five days. The garbage washes onto a 900-metre stretch between the Intercontinental Hotel and Princess Street Flyover. Yesterday, we had collected one tonne of garbage but today, it increased to nine metric tonnes,” said Kiran Dighavkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner (A ward), BMC.
Around 30 labourers have been deployed by the BMC to manually clean the promenade, which attracts lakhs of tourists everyday. While the labourers usually take an hour to clean the stretch, after Friday’s high tide — recorded at 4.85 metres — receded, they took two-and-a-half hours. “This is nature’s way of throwing back everything that we throw into it. The BMC is working on implementing the ban on single use plastic. Residents also need to stop using plastic and switch to its alternatives. It is time that people learn to stop throwing waste into the nullahs and dispose them scientifically. The nullahs are meant for sewerage and not to throw garbage,” said Dighavkar.
Officials said that garbage including plastic and thermocol glass bottles, is washed onto the shore during high tide. “We immediately clear the trash as and when it reaches the promenade,” said a civic official. Afroz Shah, who has been cleaning the Versova beach over the last two years, said: “We have neglected our oceans and water bodies for far too long… it is the neglect that is showing in such a phenomena. What we see on Marine Drive is our neglect and it is a painful sight. The local body, government and the people need to realise that it is an emergency situation, which needs an emergency response.”
Inspector Ajay Kshirsagar from Colaba traffic division said: “We were informed about the congestion at around 12.30 pm after the sea started throwing garbage on the road. The garbage also fell on the gutters, leading to waterlogging. Accordingly, BMC officials were informed, who sent trucks to clean the road. By 3 pm, after the BMC cleaned the road, the traffic was clear.”
Residents on Friday took to social media to voice their discontent. Shubham Gujarathi, who works for a private firm, tweeted: “It is our responsibility to keep Marine Drive clean. People of Mumbai are as much responsible as BMC and state government. Juhu beach and Versova beach is cleaner than Marine Drive due to the initiative by Afroz Shah. Now we need to clean Marine Drive.” Another user, Manoj Kumar, said: “What’s in a name? MARINE drive… except that all the marine life that got to the road is plastic and garbage! Mumbaikars?”