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Latest News August 2, 2023

Mumbai mangroves coming back to life

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Don’t be surprised if you see everyone from weekly corporate slaves to government employees and students together in the city’s green patches on a weekend. They’re there to help the city breathe well again.

In a first, the city’s mangroves have been rid of eight lakh kg of garbage in about four months. The efforts came into fruition when the mangrove cell began a campaign last year.

The cell wished to familiarise Mumbaikars with the importance of mangroves and the deplorable state they’re in at present. The massive Clean Mangroves Campaign began in December, and since then, hundreds of volunteers have gathered every weekend at 8 am, picking garbage up in stretches across Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, with it going on till about 5 pm.

The state cell has stated that it’s been the largest cleanliness drive so far, with over 80 tons of garbage being collected every week on an average. For now, the drive concentrates on areas like Bandra, Versova, Gorai, Dahisar, Airoli, Bhandup, Sewri and Vashi. “When we began this drive, on the first day alone we cleared 3,000 kg of trash from the stretch along Carter Road in Bandra,” beams Sarthi Gupta, the campaign coordinator. “About 720 volunteers, including students, NGOs and local citizen groups participated in the clean up drive. With the kind of response we got, our determination to make the mangroves garbage free only became stronger.” The stretches between Bandra and Gorai and Airoli to Bhandup have been cleared of 60,000 kg and 45,000 kg garbage respectively.

What began with just a handful of volunteers and forest officials soon saw an overwhelming participation of 15,000 volunteers within three months’ time.

The idea is to explain to residents why these patches of land are important, says Sarthi. “We’re trying to clear the misconception amongst youngsters that mangroves are only wastelands. While the cell has already deployed cleaning workers that remove garbage on a daily basis in the area, it was important to engage citizens as they could see and understand for themselves how littering in rivers and seas are ruining the mangroves.”

Officials from the mangrove cell claim that while a large pile of waster — comprising mostly of plastic bottles — is being recovered each week from the areas, it’s mostly the garbage from the sea that’s thrown up during tidal actions.

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