21 Dec Long Live, Mumbai!
Mumbai is a self-sustained system comprising various crucial networks. One network is that of the mangrove forests. Even though millions of Mumbaikars pass by mangroves daily, very little is known about the city’s few remaining mangroves.
In Mumbai If you are around Bandra west, it is most definite that you will land up to spend some time at the Carter Road sea walkway. One such evening when Bhumi volunteers had gathered for a volunteer meet about an upcoming event here, the beach and the setting sun enticed them to spend more time on Carter road. This is when they learned of the mangrove swamp!
The band of green that separates much of Mumbai’s coastline from the Arabian Sea is almost entirely submerged at high tide. When the sea retreats, the band becomes visible, in clumps of densely packed trees interspersed with narrow creeks. Garbage is dumped into these intertidal areas, upsetting the salinity of the seawater and choking off mangrove tree roots. The dumping is a technique to illegally reclaim the land and subsequently build on it once the trees have been destroyed.
Unpleasantly surprised to see damage brought by human trampling to the wildlife, dotted with pools of dirty water and plastic waste the volunteers decided to go back, discuss and do something about this.
Mangrove clean up drive by the Mumbai team started with an understanding of the fragility of the species and challenges to the coastlines by reading different articles and discussions among themselves. The situation at Carter mangroves is an example of the human tendency to turn a blind eye to our environment and it’s suffering. Volunteers from the Mumbai team geared up with gloves picking up all kinds of trash-hanging clothes on plants, plastic waste, medical waste, backpacks, shoes to raise awareness to protect the coast and allow healthy regeneration of mangroves. Every weekend with power-packed enthusiasm, they have completed almost 250 hours of volunteering cleaning the surrounding areas of mangroves and the trees. This is an ongoing initiative and has engaged over 100 volunteers in the last 4 months and they have managed to collect more than a ton of garbage from these drives.
When asked what motivates them to come back every week one of the volunteers remarked, “Many people are still not aware of the relation between floods and mangroves, we want to help the city of Mumbai to sustain.”
“We don’t want to see our city flooding, and doing our little bit helps,” said another volunteer
“Young generation is being hampered from this ecological calamity, so we need to take action” these were the strong comments from one of our regular volunteers.
The team during these clean up drives also takes efforts to spread awareness about using municipal garbage bins & eco-friendly materials and also talking to local vendors about stopping trash at source.
We have realised after witnessing mangrove clean up drives that these drives are immediate and short term solution for this problem, we all need to work together for its root cause which is social awareness about this sensitive and barely touched environmental issue. We aim to engage a higher number of volunteers so that we can create a larger impact.
Lastly, if Mangroves are alive, Mumbai is alive. Otherwise, all development will be underwater soon.
Wordsmith: Vinita Anil Mhatre
Bhumi is one of India’s largest independent youth volunteer non-profit organisations. Bhumi, as a platform, enables over 20,000 volunteers across 10 cities in India for causes like education, environment, animals and community welfare. Sign up to donate blood and spread awareness: www.bhumi.ngo/volunteer