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Category: civil issue and environment

The violent usage and effects of the internet

The Saturday riots at Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus seemed like an internet and cell phone caused carnage. It is shocking that more than fifty thousand people turned up because of the distribution of messages and the posting of images that were of a virulent nature.

Most Muslims, senior leaders of the community stated it was a peaceful prayer meeting that turned into a violent day. Video clips of the Gujarat riots of 2002 were doctored to fit into the Assam context. Secondly the pictures that were circulated carried the label of Jamaat –e-Islami Pakistan. They were of a highly sensitive and igniting nature, E.g. a Burmese man bleeding and running for his life on the streets, while the police are standing still. Videos of such kind were also being sent around through MMS and Bluetooth.

The prayer meeting is a completely understandable and peaceful response to the whole anger created.  But the heavy circulation of all the graphics and information triggered the use of weapons, kerosene towards innocent civilians including Muslims and led to the molestation of eight women constables. It was noted that most of the violence occurred outside the Azaad Maidaan.

The Saturday riots were certainly a carefully constructed operation looking at the way information was circulated. It was aimed particularly to ignite the passions of the rural Muslim population. Most youth that joined the rally were from areas like Garib Nagar, Bandra.

The most upsetting characteristic in the whole event is that some section of the public did not know how to differentiate between right and wrong information. What is valid and what is invalid. What was the truth and what was not?  This is the factor that caused the aggression. Enraging unnecessarily over ambiguous news and rumours has had a history of evoking aggressive reactions in India.

Raza academy, one of the organisers of the rally was criticized by senior Muslim spiritual leaders for lack of management of religious issues and public events related to it. This is one institution which has always been known to have instigated passion in people and has an aggressive way of expressing its views and thoughts. E.g.  They asked for Bangladeshi author Tasleema Nasreen to be “kicked out” of india.

The police in India are never prepared for a riot situation. The police was informed about large rough crowds headed from the eastern suburbs to south Mumbai.  Where were the crowd control operations? There was no sign of alert personnel in the area around CST before the rally started. This is utterly saddening.

On Sunday   the police took help of religious leaders to maintain peace during the funerals of the riot victims. What was the purpose? Why couldn’t they do the same on the day when they were alerted about the rally? Funerals are not where violence erupts. There is no need to maintain peace on such a day as everybody is in moaning and none have the energy to create mischief.

Why do we as a nation always wait for bodies to drop dead? Why do we wait for blood to shed to stop crime? These questions seriously need to be addressed.

S. TANUJA SURENDRA

TY.BMM

SOPHIA COLLEGE

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Mumbai Monsoon – Of water cuts and conservation methods

Image

It is that time of the year when the sky begins to cloud over. The grayness above contrasts with the colours beneath. The world seems painted in muted hues, an expectant restlessness glistening just under the surface. And under my skin. The Indian farmers may love a substantial amount of rain, but my Mumbaikars do not. They complain incessantly about the muck and the traffic jams that pan across every available space on the ground.

I am unsure if the subsequent paranoia is a result of the 26th July deluge in 2005 or if it is their irrational fear of falling ill. How else do you explain their eagerness to unlatch a bus/train window shut at the slightest drizzle, ventilation be damned?

Their aversion to water is such that they do not make an attempt to conserve it for the rest of the year. Public taps gush water unchecked and the water tanks drip all over the roads, leaving a trickling trial in their wake. The less than judicious use of water in households culminates into near drought-like situations where the government is forced to make a few water cuts.

The city is at the moment in a self-congratulatory mode because newspapers bring out daily reports of how Mumbai’s key seven lakes are overflowing more than their deemed capacity. Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner, said in an interview to Hindustan Times (dated August 9, 2012) that “there has been a steady rise in lake levels for the past 20 days… as of now, the water stock will last… till March 2013.”

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation strategy of repairing borewells and cleaning ring wells has been postponed until October, which is supposed to give them ample time to assess the situation. Therefore, instead of taking preemptive measures to prevent wastage of water, the BMC chooses to postpone them for a later date, only so that they can ‘assess the situation’.

We are far too callous with what should be our most prized commodity. If our own municipality has such a lackadaisical attitude towards water conservation, what can one say of the citizens? I have frequently had to check our domestic help every time she left the tap running for a very long period of time.

The municipality and Aamir Khan will exhort us to follow a set of guidelines which will ensure effective water conservation. Most notably, we are asked to build a catchment area somewhere in the house and build a pipe which will lead to said catchment area. Thus, when it rains, the water travels through the pipe and into the demarcated area for the water.

A lot of citizens may not do it due to possible economic feasibility (or lack of it). No worries. I, myself, have devised a set of guidelines that Mumbaikars can diligently follow and avoid heartburn. And also smelling like the gaseous remains of a potato and soya bean meal.

  • Bathe once a day: I say this in all seriousness. No, really. Some of us like to bathe three times a day. I admire the loftiness of such individuals. However, deodorants and eau de toilettes are effective (historically used and approved) methods. A worthy investment.

 

  • Do NOT keep tap running as you wash the dishes: I have repeated it again and again to my help. And then again. But to no avail. It was like talking to a brick wall. Or breaking your head against one. Either way, you are deemed insane or self-destructive. My advice? Wash the dishes yourself.

 

  • Stop and screw shut all the public taps: Weird glances notwithstanding, you should. I personally prefer to holler at the people who let the taps gush. It shames them into either action or retreat. Both very public outcomes bring tremendous satisfaction.

 

  • Utilise water already used: The foamy remnants from a bucket can be used to scrub corners of the toilet. Water from the water bottles can be used to… err… water the plants. But anything is better than throwing it out of the window. Especially when it is from the first floor. Especially when the person standing beneath aforementioned window gets no reaction time. Which makes aforesaid person angry. Very angry.

 

  • Alert required authorities in case of leakage: My mother, being an enlightened citizen and an overall Good Samaritan makes it a point to alert station masters on platforms in case there is any tap on the railway tracks that is leaking. The pot-bellied gentlemen have to be shaken out of their stupor, but once goaded, are reasonably obliging.

 

The municipal corporation has enough brickbats flying at them from all quarters. Their performance has been far below satisfactory, but if we leave the onus of water conservation upon them, then we are looking at more severe water cuts in the event that the rainfall remains scanty. It is time for Mumbaikars to do what they are known to do best – take initiative. And when few turn to a little more than few, Mumbaikars will do yet another thing they do best – join in the movement in a sort of herd mentality. Which might just work out for the greater good this time, since actions speak louder than mere rallying.

 

NIHARIKA PURI
TYBMM JOURNALISM
SOPHIA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN

VASAI: TRAFFIC ISSUES IGNORED.

                      ARE TRAFFIC SIGNALS REALLY A THREAT????

 ( VASAI SENIOR TRAFFIC INSPECTOR- Mr. Shubash Deore)

Besides Mumbai, Vasai is a place that faces traffic issues which are often ignored by Vasaikars. Since the past 20 years, Vasai has been a town which has taken up development projects in construction, repairing roads and various infrastructure projects too but has turned a blind eye to the issues related to traffic. The issue has been not highlighted either by the people or Municipal Co-operation nor by the traffic police force.

The streets of Vasai reek of traffic problems. There are no facilities for a signal even where the four roads meet up in areas near the station (the chowks) or even at the 100 feet wide roads. Eg. at Babola naka, Evershine City (East), Vasant nagri, Ambadi naka etc.

In order to receive first-hand  information, I decided to speak to the traffic inspector of  Vasai, ‘Inspector Shubash Deore’. “ There’s not even a single signal in Vasai, no parking slot allotted, the bike riders don’t wear the helmet- such things are ignored by everyone.” Due to the absence of a traffic signal, Accidents are rampant due to which other issues of negligence by drivers have to be ignored. When wearing a helmet had become a law, people were taking the initiative to do so but this phenomenon lasted for a very short period of time. After a year, no bike rider is seen wearing a helmet. On 26th December, 2011- A bike and rickshaw collided with each other. On Investigating further, it was noted that two passengers in the rickshaw died on the spot and the rickshaw driver’s with minor injuries and Mr. Gokhale (the bike rider) is in a critical condition. Doctors are trying their best to bring Mr. Ghokhale to consciousness. Inspector Shubash Deore stated, “Mr. Ghokhale was half drunk and speeding up a bike without wearing a helmet.”

Cars and bikes tend to speed up as there are no traffic signals and many a times no traffic police to control the smooth flow of traffic. There’s no parking slot available due to which people tend to park it on both the sides of the road, this leads to traffic jam mostly near the vasai station. Inspector Shubhash Deore also stated, “No traffic signal contributes towards people ignoring the law of wearing of helmet, parking anywhere on the road and over drunken driving due to the absence of traffic polices many a times.”

Who is to be blamed for the traffic issues, is it the responsibility of the municipality co-operation or the traffic police? Or shouldn’t the public take initiatives to be responsible to avoid such issues and follow the traffic discipline without any law? This remains a vital question that may never be answered appropriately to anyone’s satisfaction.

picture credits: the photo was shot by me, once the traffic police had been interviewed.

BY  NICOLE FERNANDES

TYBMM

SOPHIA COLLEGE

For a Change

In a decent conversation with a friend on what could be the positive effects of media I realized that well, there were certain things which could be done. I had already learnt about ‘Kafila’ , and the rest in my class lectures, but they are not something which would be read by large numbers it was only connecting for the intellect class. I was looking for something which attract the individuals in large numbers as they are the ‘Jon Doe’ and ‘Jane Doe’ which is targeted by the main stream media.
Just going over ‘Facebook’ with the thought running in my head, I decided to find out if there are any prevalent efforts to bring about this change. We all know how Facebook works; posts, links, pages groups etcetera have become interesting over a year and have become popular. As going through the newsfeed I found this one image which made me scroll up the screen. It was a cartoon picture, it made me smile instantly, it was a comment in a satirical manner comment on the existing political state. The picture had a huge pink mother-pig, feeding her five piglets.
The Mother Pig
The word ‘Financial industry’ was etched on the on mother pig and ‘Congress’ etched on the piglets. These were human piglets accompanied by a formal briefcase behind them which had ‘Reform’ written on it. It was straight ‘matter of fact’ statement made by the artiste. As I followed the page, it became evident that they were talking about the change I wanted to see. The page is called, ‘Anonymous ART of Revolution’ and yet again the same old curiosity kicked in. as flexible as they are with the being open and sensitive to the need for the required change, they are as easily approachable. When contacted, they explained the whole idea behind their page and the ideas they wanted to express. In a very Simple statement they explain the entire concept of their page, “For every action there is a consequence and anonymous is the consequence against the greed!” They also believe that all the alternative media is nowadays one, the Internet is in the hands of people like us all and we can choose to make a difference to release information and create awareness. They work as an organized group dedicated to the masses and they target each and everyone to who can understand what they want to express. In order to maintain anonymity and to show a common face, interestingly they have used the mask. You can recognize the mask easily as it is the one used in the movie V for Vendetta. They further clarify that they are not the only ones, as they do associate with other pages. There are others who are working equally hard.

Another page which is doing similar work is ‘GotStared.At’ It’s a page which brings the issue of women sexual harassment’ in the open. It targets the wrongs which happen to women and how the society keeps feeding on these wrongs. The page admin when contacted willingly explained their idea by saying that they, “We want people to be able to talk rationally about everything under the sun. Right now, the talks surrounding these sensitive issues are pretty much under the covers, and hushed. This is what incites fear into peoples’ minds. We want that fear to go away. We want rape survivors to not feel ashamed about coming out and admitting that they have been raped, thereby taking away the power from the rapist.” In order to reach to a younger audience in a colloquial manner, they have images like

Though I still believe social media can’t be the only medium to inform the masses, I think these are some of the steps responsible citizens have taken. Their efforts should be considered and the word should spread around. The social media mediums especially in countries like India can be a medium to unite the classes and make them aware about the need for change. This specific class is already involved in social media. They can influence that specific class all over the world. It can create a social awareness on issues like women harassment, corporate ownership, the over powering government, the environmental issues etcetera. The element of individuality can be maintained and showcased under anonymity. It can play an important part when dealing with visual illustrations (referring to the cartoons which were criticized by the Indian political leaders and parties). These groups can target both global and local audiences, picking up issues over different news media and which are not in the vested interest of the mainstream media.
It’s only these steps which make a stairway to heaven.
The links for these pages :
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anonymous-ART-of-Revolution/362231420471759
http://www.facebook.com/gotstared

By: TYBMM Journo
(Puneet)

The Unfortunate State of the ‘Common Man’

On a Friday afternoon, a friend of mine and I were sitting at Cafe Coffee Day (CCD), Chowpatty. A little later, we realised that her Scooty had disappeared. We asked the boys, who works at the cafe about it, and he told us that there is a ‘No Parking’ Sign here, while the other said that the parking spot is only for four wheelers and not two wheelers.  At the place, where the scooty was parked there was no mark by the towing guys (chalk mark that is generally drawn), hence suspecting them to take it away was out. We walked a little ahead hoping to find the scooty parked around, somehow. Two policemen were standing near New Yorkers, a famous eating joint at Chowpatty. We went to them and informed them about the incident. They asked us to go to a traffic police man standing nearby, as a towing truck had passed from there a few minutes ago and picked up a few cars. They also told us to ask him for the Nana Chowk tow station number, so we can call them and ask if the scooty is there. When we asked the Traffic Police man, he said, “I don’t have the number,” and asked us to go to Nana Chowk and check.

When we reached Nana Chowk, we found the scooty, among the many vehicle parked. We tell the man sitting at the counter (where one has to pay for the towed vehicle or fine along with two other men), about the vehicle that was towed. He asks us to pay Rs. 200, (Rs. 100 for the fine and Rs. 100 for the Towing charge). As per the Mumbai Traffic Police website, the fine should Rs. 100 for a two-wheeler. We questioned them about this and they chose to ignore it. When we refused to pay more than Rs. 100, they said that won’t do and we have to pay the amount told by them. In order to get a clarification, we asked them why was our vehicle towed and not the other four-wheelers and two-wheelers that were parked at the ‘No Parking’ area (offence- 15(2) RRR 177 MVA) and pavement (offence- 15(2)(ii)RRR 177 MVA) respectively, they responded by saying that, our vehicle was parked at a cab stand, which was not the truth. We had parked it at a ‘No Parking’ area (not that we are proud of that). We also questioned them as to why wasn’t any mark put around the area so that we would know that our vehicle was towed, which is generally done, they ignored the question and stayed mum.

They prepared the receipt and gave it to us. When we said we would pay Rs.100 and not Rs. 200 and pointed out at their mistakes, they replied by saying, “Don’t take away your vehicle” and tried to snatch the receipt from us. When we refused to give it, as we wanted them to answer our question first, they started talking in a high tone, said, “HUD!!” and snatched the receipt. They also told us to go to the court.

My friend was taken aback and scared by the way they spoke and paid them the amount and took her vehicle. But the ill treatment we suffered, for just asking questions like ‘why did you tow our vehicle and not the others?’, ‘why wasn’t there a mark with the chalk, so that we would know that the vehicle has been towed?’ and ‘is parking on the footpath allowed?’

Their behaviour came as a shock to us.

As per the Mumbai Traffic Police Offences, parking at a bus stop and pavement is illegal, yet many vehicles are parked there and are not towed. But most vehicles are towed and are fined for ‘parking at cab stands’. Traffic Policemen do not have numbers of stations, hard to believe.  So this incident taught me that parking at bus stops, pavements, alongside another vehicle is acceptable (as per the Mumbai Traffic Police headquarters penalties, it is an offence), the fine put up on the Mumbai Traffic Police website(which was last updated in January) is wrong (as the price is different when we have to pay) and the ‘common man’ does not have a say or the right to get a clarification.

Parking Offences

Nature of Offence

Legal Provision

Penalty (Rs)

Parking in flow of traffic

22(a) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parking away from footpath

15(2) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parking against flow of traffic

15(2) RRR
177 MVA

100

Obstruction by parking

15(2) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parking on taxi stand

15(2) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parking in not prescribed manner

15(1) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parking at corner

15(i) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parking within 15 meters on either side of bus stop

15(2) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parking on bridge

15(2) (i) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parked at traffic island

15(i) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parked in No Parking area

15(2) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parked on pedestrian crossing

15(2)(iii) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parked on footpath

15(2)(ii) RRR
177 MVA

100

Parked in front of gate

15(2)(viii) RRR
177 MVA

100

Causing obstruction to traffic by parking

15(1) RRR
177 MVA

100

RRR = Rules of Road Regulations 1989
MVA = Motor Vehicles Act 1988

CHARGES OF TOWING OF VEHICLES

Sr. No

Vehicle

Charges

1

Two Wheeler

100

2

Car , Jeep, Taxi, Auto Richshaw

200

3

Truck,Tanker,Trailor

600

ALICE PETER
TYBMM JOURNALISM
SOPHIA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN

http://trafficpolicemumbai.org/Offences_Parking.htm

MANGROVES- OUR DETERIORATING LIFELINE

Mangroves-the spirit of Mumbai

Mangroves are the spirit and lifeline of Mumbai, which is slowly deteriorating due to a number of reasons.. Read on to know more…

Mangroves are an integral part of the Mumbai’s landscape and lifeline. These are fast disappearing owing to the rampant construction of buildings, highways and amusement parks and due to lack of responsibility on the part of the government to protect them. The statistics are huge! Mumbai is surrounded by approximately 5000 or more acres of mangrove swamps spread over various areas such as Mahim, Thane creek, Madh, Versova, Gorai, etc and of these, the city has lost almost 40% to land needed for construction and developmental projects. For instance, about 300 acres was sanctioned to build ‘EsselWorld’ amusement park in Gorai creek at Borivali and a golf course at Andheri.

Mangroves are small, woody plants which are found in low-lying shallow areas. Mangrove ecosystems serve as a buffer between land and sea by protecting the land from the impact of the sea. They maintain the integrity of Mumbai’s shoreline by trapping silt. So, for a major economic port like Mumbai, this is very crucial to maintain stability along the coastline and avoid accidents. Some say that infrastructure creation is an important and totally justifiable end in a city like Mumbai which is aiming to gain an international look.
However, the city has not yet learnt to appreciate the benefits given by mangroves.
Mangrove land has consistently been reclaimed and destroyed in the name of slum rehabilitation and garbage dumps, to make way for high rises. What many are not aware about is that marshy land is not meant for extensive construction and concretization of such land reduces its water absorption capacity.

We, as individual citizens shall feel personally responsible and raise our voice against such acts so that even the officials responsible are forced to take action. The positive news is that the initiation has already started.
Take the case of mangroves in Charkop, which pertains to a plot at Charkop, Sector 8, where illegal building construction has come up. There were protests everywhere in the area. The government seemed to have woken up to citizens’ calls. Valsa Nair, Secretary of the environment department ordered the tehsildar to take immediate action against the construction of Shri Sai Baba CHS, as it doesn’t have permission from the competent authority to do so and hence is in clear violation of the CRZ notification. The CRZ norms ban construction within 50 m of mangroves.

Residents living in the area say that the whole 30 square kilometer stretch of mangroves between Goregaon and Dahisar has been under threat for a long time now and 140 acres of mangroves adjoining Manori creek has been treated like a dumping ground to facilitate illegal construction. In some cases, mangroves were also being set ablaze!

So instead of the government waking up and taking action after the illegal structures have come up; it should be proactive in keeping a watch and curbing the nip of menace in the bud.

But finally, in April, the Mangrove Protection Committee, headed by the tehsildar and comprising of citizens, BMC, police and forest officials, came up with protective measures to safeguard the buffer zones in the area such as joint site visits of the most affected mangrove areas along with metal fabrication works and sand cleaning activities were undertaken between Borivli and Dahisar on mangrove land to protect the stretch.

This is yet another example of citizen activism triumphing over administrative ignorance and initiating action to make a difference. Had government agencies been half as alert and sensitive to Mumbai’s problems as its citizens, the city would have been much more lovable and livable.

—Sakshi Raina
TYBMM

Laughter Clubs as a Civic Issue

In today’s world where when we step out of our house we are exposed to conditions that affect our health. Smoke constitutes 70 percent of Mumbai’s air. Being the third most populous city in India Mumbai’s roads is packed with traffic in the evenings and during peak hours. So if I leave the comfort of my house and go to work 8 hours a day or attend college till the evening, after battling out getting a seat in the local train, suffering from excruciating heat in the afternoon and then getting drenched while coming back in the evening (why did it rain? well, its Mumbai) all I want is a little bit of laugh and quiet. Broadly speaking all of us by which I not only mean Homo Sapiens aka human beings but also animals, birds, water mammals have two sets of feelings: negative and positive. Well experiencing the latter feeling involves a little bit of laughter and a little bit of quite. Laughter is a wonderful experience indeed. The history of laughter goes back to …ahh well to be precise… duh since humans were born. It was discovered before sleep, before walking, before talking, before eating. So people have been laughing since time immemorial.
But as the saga goes there lived a saint three thousand years ago in China by the name of Hotai, god of happiness, who went to different villages in China, stood at a corner and started laughing. Looking at him the people of the villages also joined him in the exercise. This improved their health which proved that laughing is a good exercise which improves health and brings more oxygen into the body.
History sets the foundation for our present and so the modern day laughter yoga clubs were formed. The first was formed by Indian physician Dr. Madan Kataria in Lokhandwala complex , Andheri in 1995 with just five people which has now grown up to be 6000 clubs in 60 countries. Laughter yoga simply means laughing without any relevant reason with pranayama(systematic breathing). This concept is based on the observation that the brain cannot distinguish between real or fake laughter says Dr. Gerald Ellison of Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Members every morning gather around usually in a park or garden and laugh. Laugh out loud. (lol)Laugh out the worries the tensions and the stress. Many such clubs have been formed in Mumbai. To name a few there is a laughter club laughing near the Gateway of India(just below Taj Mahal Hotel),Kurla,Sheetal Talao Pond in the suburbs, Siddhachal in Thane and many more. Never thought why laughing could cause someone any problem (expect off-course your enemies) but recently the Mumbai High court banned a Laughter Yoga Club to stop operating in Kurla. Vinayak Shirsat , 78 year, one of the residents of that area filed a complaint against it. He described the noise caused his family ‘“mental agony, pain and public nuisance,” Well the only activity they were involved in was laughing. The president of the club Sadanand Ghate said,in front of the court,that their objective was not to disturb the neighbours but to indulge in a peaceful activity. The court remained unimpressed and told him to make less noise and to choose another place for the club’s activities. Anti-noise pollution activist Sumaira Abdulali measured the noise generated by a laughter club in Joggers Park,Bandra and found that the noise emanating reached upto 65-80 decibels which is equivalent to noise of traffic. Since laughter clubs operate in the quite of dawn this would be seen as an unsocial activity. The question to ask is that should laughter clubs which have been operating for the past 2-3 years be told to stop operating just because few residents have a problem? Dr.Sanjay Kumawat of Thane mental hospital says that, “Laughter club as an organisation and concept should be carried on keeping in mind neighbours peace and quiet. Members should find a common ground instead of forming small groups to operate”. Is there another rule in the rulebook of archaic laws of India which says that laughing should be banned? Where will the group go and how will they operate?
Laughter clubs all over Mumbai is causing lots of disturbance to the neighbours which make it a civic issue. Noise be it laughter or traffic comes under the broad category of noise pollution.

Mumbai:Whose city is it anyway?

It is in human nature to escape from difficult situations by conveniently placing the blame on others. A glaring example of this human tendency can be seen in our very own city. Once while travelling on a local train on the central line, I was engaged in a conversation with a woman who suddenly frowned at the squatters along the railway tracks. “These uncouthlow class people…”, she uttered in exasperation while disposing an empty packet of chips out the moving train. “They have no civic sense at all”, she continued as she flung a tissue paper out the train after having wiped her hands clean. The railway lines of Mumbai speak volumes not only about the plight of the poor lot with no public urinal or sanitation facilities, but also of the civic sense of us Mumbaikars. So, who do we blame?“The low class people who reside on the suburbs?”

During the dog poop menace in South Bombay that saw the front pages of many newspapers, strict laws were laid down  to ensure that the owners, while walking their dogs, took responsibilityof keeping the pavement clear of poop. It was precisely during that time when well-known journalist Tavleen Singh protested against the fine saying that while the entire city litters, why is she being targeted? (Reported by Mumbai Mirror). Now policemen, instead of directly penalisinglaw breaking IAS officers and other high profile residents of the southern part of Mumbai, are found distributing pamphlets in their neighbourhood.Who is to blame? The rich from the city?

Rich or poor, the answer from every Mumbaikar is unanimous -“The infamous BMC”.

With the Post boxes turning into litter boxes, it is but appropriate to ask ‘where are they disappearing?’ Some may argue that the advent of the internet and courier services have nearly wiped out their existence leaving no room for their use. But an unsaid and often unheard part of the counter argument exists too. “People like us who do not have the privilege of using expensive services cannot even avail of these cheap means of posting letters because people spit on it. Neither the BMC nor the head office for postal services takes care of these post boxes”, says an aggrieved hawker at Vikhroli. In 2007, BMC came up with trained Marshals who penalised those caught littering in public spaces. Within a few weeks, a bench of high court restrained them from doing their job on grounds of corruption among the officials and bad behaviour towards the public. But another bench allowed the marshals to continue their work as they gave cleanliness and health greater preference over trivial tiffs between the marshals and the public. Again the question of who needs to take the blame surfaces. Who do we blame? The BMC or the Police or the Bombay High Court?

The dumping ground at Chembur has reached a height that probably none of the buildings in the entire area has. A local from Chembur estimates the mountain of a dump as 19 storeys high that loosely translates to 140 feet. Despite repeated complaints from the residents regarding health hazards and an unbearable stench, nothing much has been done about it. Incidentally, BMC had requested the Airport Authority of India to allow them to raise the height to 164 feet. Citizen forums have been actively voicing their protest against the request. The forums want the dumping ground to be taken to some other site. Having said that, the river most talked about after the fateful deluge on the 26th of July, 2005, Mithi, needs a special mention too. The BMC and MMRDA have spent over Rs 500 cr and Rs 700 cr over restoration that involves de-silting and building a retaining wall. Yet the river sees illegal encroachments sprawled across its banks, let alone the diversion of the river by 90 degrees that has almost destroyed its natural ecological balance. The Bombay high court had ordered the removal of debris from the river but nothing noteworthy has been done so far. As one crosses Bandra, it becomes difficult to believe that the disease causing, heavily littered nullah is actually a river. Again, who do we blame for the shameful death of the Mithi River? The Industries that dump solid wastes and effluentsor the BMC or the government?

 

It’s time we stopped blaming each other. Though, we pride ourselves on being Mumbaikars with an undaunting spirit, yet fail to take cognizance of the impending doom. The sense of belongingness to the city which is so intense otherwise, seems lost when it comes to keeping the city clean. If we continue placing blames, the list would become endless with no possible remedy. As much convoluted and complex as the entire situation may seem to us, the solution to this huge problem of litter in Mumbai is actually quite simple. It starts from our very home. Instead of finding faults with the government or the BMC or the police and so forth, we must learn to correct our own selves. It is of paramount importance to find solutions to the problems that we all collectively face. There have been classic examples in the past where students, employees of certain companies or the public have held voluntary campaigns as well as supported BMC in its effort to make Mumbai clean.

If BMC has rules, we must follow them irrespective of the societies we belong to. If the BMC does not fulfil its duties, we must report the issue and ensure that it functions well. The least we can do is participate in the BMC elections and vote for the right candidate who according to us has been efficient over the years. Availing the privileges of RTI in this regard to know if the corporations are addressing important issues can go a long way too. Pushing the government to set up cow proof dustbins in trains and BEST buses, build public urinals, impose penalty with respect to littering public spaces etc is our  responsibility. Powerful media such as newspapers and news channels should be made use of to bring such problems to the fore, thus keeping citizens and officials aware of the situation.

And lastly, doing our bit as individuals by disposing garbage only in dust bins, not spitting, educating ourselves and inculcating civic sense by conducting campaigns and regular clean ups in collaboration with public agencies and NGOs would help make our Mumbai, the city of dreams, in the true sense of the term.

By,

NeelKamal Mishra

TYBMM

Sophia College