We belong to a generation that believes in fixing broken things instead of discarding them and the same applies to the relationship between the humans and nature. Going along the same line of thought, a small group of youngsters, rather we can say- concerned citizens have come forward with an aim to make Mumbai a garbage-free city by cleaning up its beaches.
While talking to Life Beyond Numbers, Mumbai’s 21-year-old environmentalist Malhar Kalambe expressed his concerns, “Looking at these oceans and beaches feels like someone has puked on them. Nature is so beautiful, we should protect it.”
Malhar is a student of CA from KPB Hinduja College, and doing his bit to make Mumbai a trash-less city by cleaning up Dadar beach through his initiative “Beach Please”.
How did it start?
The initiative was started on September 10, 2017, and since then the young volunteers have succeeded to remove 360 tonnes of waste from shore stretch till now.
Malhar didn’t approach anyone formally or went to any organization asking for help to support his cause. He started the campaign simply by circulating the messages in WhatsApp. “I started sending texts to my friends urging them to come forward and help me clean up Dadar beach and now we have about 100-120 people who join us on every Sunday,” he says.
“It was sort of a reunion with friends when we started the campaign one year back.” Malhar says, “I met with my friends after 4 years and we realized that together we can do so much more and this is how the project to clean up Dadar beach started.”
This week marks the 54th week of the campaign and the celebration was followed by nothing but the clean-up of the Dadar beach as usual.
Ex-students of Dadar Parsee Youths Assembly High School- Dharmik Gajjar, Nimit Mehta, Deep Gala, Poonam Shah, Manav Gandhi have also taken out time to do their bit for the environment. Apart from that, NSS teams of V.S.I.T, R.A. Podar College and U.P.G College have come forward to support the cause this week.
Further, on September 15, the young volunteers celebrated International Clean-up Day by organizing a brisk walk from Decathlon Atria to Dadar Beach. On asking about the challenges he is facing for taking up this initiative, Malhar says, “it is not about managing waste that is destroying the ocean’s health, it is about changing the mindset of these people.”
“It is a wrong belief that beachgoers pollute the seashores or banks of the rivers. They might contribute to the pollution but the garbage ends up at the banks of rivers and oceans from somewhere else,” he says.
What is Murtidaan?
Murtidaan is another noble initiative by these youngsters who restore the lost glory of the idols by coloring them and fixing them.
Malhar says, “Every year during Ganesh Chaturthi, so many idols are immersed in the water in the name of tradition and culture and after few days these abandoned idols are washed ashore which results in pollution.”
From pious idols, they become discarded items in a few days. Even though many are not restorable but they find some in good condition which needs only minor fixing and they look like a new one, once again. Out of 40 idols the volunteers collected during the beach clean-up, they were able to restore only 18, which were then gifted to either small temples or individuals who were willing to accept them.
Malhar says, in comparison to other beaches, the rate of pollution in Chaityabhoomi is higher as the place is famous because it is memorial to Babasaheb B R Ambedkar and there is a cremation ground here as well. Therefore post-death rituals take place here which includes “Pind Daan” – an obligatory Hindu ritual and therefore these too end up at the banks of rivers. Further, this place has religious significance and therefore, many idols end up in the river after the festivals, which adds to the pollution.
Abuse of Mithi River
‘Mithi’ means sweet but if you look at this river, it is anything but sweet. The river is completely choked with garbage and it has become more of a sewage drain now. What has messed up this river is the household waste that has ended in this river from the nearby slums.
The river originates from the overflow of Vihar Lake and also receives the overflows of Powai Lake. But now, instead of water, discharges from these lakes fill Mithi river and the Tulsi lake also contributes to its precarious condition. Further, this polluted water ends up at Mahim Bay and into the Arabia Sea.
A study by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) revealed that Mithi and Patalganga are on the list of the 38 most polluted rivers in India.
“Most people contribute to the pollution without even knowing it. We need to sensitize people that even throwing a small chocolate wrapper contributes to the pollution and damages our eco-system. Therefore proper disposal is very essential,” says Malhar.
Protect yourself first and then work towards the welfare of the environment is what Malhar and his team believe in. Apart from masks and gloves, these beach clean-up volunteers are also provided with first aid kit during the time of emergencies.
“It is very crucial that we stay healthy physically, else we won’t be able to work effectively,” he says.
There is hardly anything that doesn’t end up being wasted on these beaches. Be it school bags, plastics, broken glasses, woods, oils and chemicals, discarded flowers- you name it. This list is never ending and it consumes time to segregate it because of lack of awareness amid people.
Taking Cue from Japan
We can not only learn from nature but also from people if we look around carefully.
Kamikatsu, a small town in Japan is a place that has zero waste and how did that become possible? In 2003, the town created the Zero Waste declaration and after that, this concept gained popularity and acceptance. Soon after this, people of the town began to look at the trash differently.
This town has divided waste products into 45 categories which have helped it to become trash-less. Instead of burning the waste or dumping it in nature, people segregate the garbage and recycle them. It is probably the only place on earth where almost nothing goes into waste.
Classifying waste items and separating it makes the process of recycling faster and why is it necessary? Because through this, you learn to take care of things and not discard them.
How can you help this initiative?
The campaign, Beach Please, is entirely self-funded by Malhar and his friends. They are looking forward to raising Rs.80,000 so that they can clean the beaches more effectively. “Now many people have come forward to support us and there are so many volunteers who make it a point to join us every week. For them, we arrange the necessary tools needed during clean up. For this, we need funds.”
Click here if you wish to contribute to this initiative in any capacity.
Or you can also do a direct bank transfer(Only INR transfers are allowed):
- Account Number: 6999413500065106
- Account Name: Malhar Kalambe
- Account Type: Current Account
- IFSC Code: YESB0CMSNOC
Apart from this, he also takes care of stray dogs and adopts them who get injured in the accidents or need medical treatments to survive. In the last 3 years, he has adopted 9 dogs.
By restoring ocean’s health and showing compassion towards animals by loving them and taking care of them, Malhar is doing his bit to save the environment. Are you?