To increase awareness in the local community on the dangers of marine litter, the state Mangrove Cell has created an installation made entirely out of waste collected from the sea in Malvan.
Set up in the Rock Garden, Malvan’s popular tourist destination, the installation called ‘Co-existence’ depicts a man with a dolphin and a turtle.
“Through the installation, we wanted to raise awareness among the local people about the damage marine litter causes to the sea and to its creatures. Since the message is targeted to the fishing community, we used these animals that they are familiar with,” said N Vasudevan, the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Mangrove Cell.
Created from waste collected from the sea and the beach, the installation includes ghost fishing nets, slippers and plastic products. Some of the waste was picked up from the dump yard in Malvan.
“The installation symbolises man leading the marine creatures to a cleaner and pollution-free tomorrow,” explained a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) staff member.
It has been created by Amitesh Shrivastava, a contemporary artist who had earlier created several installations in Mumbai. “We had to first sort through the waste to see what could be used in the installation. It was then washed and cleaned to get rid of the odour. After assembly, it had to be fabricated and painted with a weather coat so that it remains for at least five to eight years,” said Shrivastava.
Last year, around 20 youngsters were trained as scuba divers to generate tourism-related employment in Sindhudurg district as part of a project implemented by the Government of India, in collaboration with the UNDP and the Mangrove Cell of the Maharashtra forest department. As part of scuba diving training, certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, an international certification body, participants helped remove marine litter and ghost fishing nets from the coastal areas of Sindhudurg.
“The students who were trained as scuba divers under the Sindhudurg Project have now gone on to clean the coastline themselves. The waste used in the installation was collected by them,” Vasudevan said.
After completing the course, a group of seven boys continued cleaning the coast and in less than a year, they removed around 2 lakh square metre of ghost fishing nets and three to four tonnes of plastic waste from in and around Malvan. “We even removed waste from areas around Sindhudurg Fort where plastic would get stuck in the rocks and could not be accessed by the municipal corporation staff,” said Bhushan Zuwatkar, one of the divers.
“When I went to see the installation, I saw a girl throwing a tissue on the ground. After a few minutes, she came near the installation and immediately went back to pick up the tissue. This is the impact it is creating here. Something like this has never been done in Sindhudurg before and it was much needed here for the people to understand the impact waste is creating on marine biodiversity,” Zuwatkar added.
Speaking about creating such installations in other parts of the state, Vasudevan said: “We can do it but the message will have to be different. Also, an installation like this is a novelty here and so, it’s more effective. If we have to do this in Mumbai, it will have to be really different to attract attention.”
Made at a cost of around Rs 2 lakh, the installation was funded by the Sindhudurg Biodiversity Project. The project is implemented by the Central government, in collaboration with the UNDP and the Mangrove Cell with support from the Global Environment Facility.