- On August 29, 1,200 tonnes of floating garbage was cleared
- Plastic waste posed the a huge challenge for the BMC
- 150 medical camps are set across Mumbai to prevent diseases
New Delhi: On August 29, the coastal city of Mumbai witnessed the wettest rainfall in 20 years which left the city paralysed for nearly 24 hours. As the city waited for the water to recede to get back on its feet, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) fearing huge volumes of floating garbage that would be left behind once the water recedes and deployed 100 per cent of its staff for cleanup. Every worker in the BMC worked for nearly 12 hours in their designated areas to remove the garbage lying on roads, footpaths and beaches.
On Tuesday, despite the incessant rainfall about 1,200 tonnes of garbage comprising mostly households waste, polythene, plastic bottles, thermocol, wrappers, etc was collected from the roads while the rest was removed on Wednesday. In the worst affected areas of the city, the BMC had to take additional steps for garbage clearance. For instance barricades were placed in Lower Parel and Kurla by the Solid Waste Management (SWM) Department to remove huge chunks of sludge caused by the overflowing Mithi river.
Talking to NDTV, Vijay Balamwar, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, SWM says, “From the hygiene point of view it was necessary to clear most of the garbage before water levels receded as polluted water combined with the muck could turn the area into breeding ground for mosquitos. Cleanliness is a priority in such situations.”
One of the major challenges for the civic workers in cleaning the roads were the plastic bags stuck on the sides of the roads, “While we had shovels to remove the muck and trucks for clearing the green waste, we had no option but manually pull the plastic bags stuck underwater. It took us a lot of time to remove the plastic waste and yet we weren’t able to clear them completely,” says Sunil Gaikwade, BMC worker.
As the BMC had to cut down their daily door-to-door garbage collection drive, the waste that was generated (nearly 6,500 tonnes) on Tuesday remained confined within the residential complexes. On Wednesday nearly 9,600 metric tonnes of waste in total (floating + household) was sent to the trenching grounds of the city.
Instances of people discarding their household waste within the society which eventually spilled on the roads were also recorded in the city. One such area was city’s H-West ward, “Since our drainage capacity which is 50 mm went upto 250 mm, the rain water hit the garbage bins of societies and all kinds of waste came out on the streets. It took us nearly 15 hours to normalise the cleanliness condition,” explains H-West ward Assistant Engineer M. K Mhaske.
150 medical camps have been set up across the city after civic chief Ajoy Mehta directed the BMC to prevent any kind of health hazards says Mr Balamwar. Besides, special directions were also issued regarding the sanitation levels to be maintained in slum areas of the city, “For next 7-8 days the BMC staff will carry out rigorous cleaning activities including spraying disinfectants in slum areas.”
As per the BMC, 90 per cent of the city’s rainfall is discharged into the water bodies. But given that the rivers of Mumbai (Poisor, Mithi, etc) are open garbage dumps and are too polluted to flow and drain out the rain water, the city is left with limited options to treat the water accumulated during heavy rainfall.
Mumbai’s massive population of nearly 18 million, generates 9,400 tonnes of waste daily. The ever increasing quantity of waste combined with the reality of all three overflowing landfills (Deonar, Kanjurmarg and Mulund) and an inefficient drainage system, paint a grim picture for India’s financial capital. Experts fear that if the BMC and citizens do not act urgently to manage waste, the city is doomed in case of a disaster, whether natural or man-made.