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08 Aug 2018

Mumbai couple collects 650 tonnes of garbage from Mahim Beach

By next month, this Mumbai couple would reach 50th week of their mission: to keep Mahim Beach clean and plastic free.

This week was their 46th and till now they have collected 650 tonnes of waste, with roughly 20 tonnes of garbage being collected every weekend.

Their efforts were also awarded by UN Environment Head, Erik Solheim, on World Environment Day 2018.

In context

Meet the Swachh warrior couple from Mumbai
The couple started their mission after facing problems themselves

The start

The couple started their mission after facing problems themselves

Meet Indranil Sengupta and Rabia Tewari, who started collecting garbage after receiving a personal setback.

It was in July-August last year when they shifted to a sea-facing apartment, but their dreamy mornings were clouded by heaps of garbage.

The pitiable condition of the beach saddened them.

"The strewn plastic started getting embedded in the sand," said Rabia, so she dialled the BMC helpline.


BMC turned them down, so they wore gloves and started

"Every time I'd call them, they would say, we are sending someone to pick up the waste, but no one would come," said Indranil.

So they decided to take matters into their own hands.

Inspired by Afroz Shah, beach-cleanup poster boy, they wore a pair of gloves each, headed towards the beach and started cleaning it.

They were accompanied by two volunteers that day.

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"It's a ritual. We get an average of 25-30 volunteers"


"It's a ritual. We get an average of 25-30 volunteers"

That was the start. Since then the couple, married for seven years, go to the beach every weekend sharp at 8AM and clean it for two hours.

"It's a ritual for both of us. We get an average of 25-30 volunteers," narrates Rabia.

Last Sunday, students of Class 7-10 from MET Rishikul Vidyalaya helped them clean the stretch from Hinduja Hospital towards Mahim Dargah.

BMC angle

"BMC should collect waste manually or use waste-segregating machines"

This couple doesn't just clean waste, they also ensure sand isn't collected.

Indranil said, "BMC uses rakes to pick up the waste, but they collect more sand than plastic waste and huge amount of sand goes to the (Deonar) landfill."

To avoid this scenario, the BMC can either "collect the waste manually or use machines that are able to segregate the waste and sand."

"More manpower and machines should be deployed by civic body"


"More manpower and machines should be deployed by civic body"

They make a special mention of Ashok Khairnar, Assistant Commissioner G/North Ward, BMC, saying the civic body helps them, but the manpower allotted should be increased.

Currently, 19 ground staff (of which only a few clean the beach) and two trucks are deployed to clean the entire 3-4km stretch from Mahim to Prabhadevi, as against the required 60-70 members and three excavators.


The duo have installed waste bins for villagers

The duo has also conducted awareness campaigns for Koli villagers, who defecate openly and dump their waste close to the sea.

They hope that the civic body would come to collect them, but that hardly happens.

So to avoid any further dumping, the couple has installed bins for them.

They have also asked the BMC to install filtration system/mesh at the sea-meeting area.

Don't rely on government always, own up as citizens: Indranil

Indranil insists that instead of always relying on government, we as citizens should take initiatives. "My question is what all the government will do. We've created this mess over a period of time and it's our duty to clean. Civic responsibility is zero these days."

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