The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) invited tenders for the cleaning of Versova and Juhu beaches in 2017 at a cost of ₹22 crore for each beach to be spent over a six-year period. The contract was awarded to Spectron Engineers. However, civic activists are unhappy with the poor work being done on these two beaches.
An activist told on condition of anonymity on Thursday, “The contractor is supposed to employ 100 workers daily at Versova beach. But this is rarely the case. The company has been issued several show-cause notices by the MCGM, but they have had no impact. There is something seriously wrong with the implementation.”
Beach cleaning in shifts
However, Santosh Nair of Spectron denied the allegation. He claimed that during monsoon 100 workers are employed daily at Versova and 120 at Juhu beach. “Our workers do the cleaning in shifts. In Juhu, cleaning is done even at night so that in the morning the walkers have a clean beach to walk. However, during monsoon the high tides throw back lot of garbage which poses a problem. Also, garbage from mangroves and nullahs find their way way to the beachfronts. We have suggested the netting of nullah outlets.”
Activists complain that the situation is particularly bad during monsoon when a lot of garbage thrown into the sea comes back to the beaches. This is apart from the liberal littering of the beaches by visitors. There are seven beaches in Mumbai and thousands of people visit them even during rains.
An official said, “We are spending ₹3 lakh daily to keep the beaches clean, but it is a Herculean task.”
Afroz Shah Foundation cleans beaches
“Citizens like Advocate Afroz Shah and volunteers of the Afroz Shah Foundation have been cleaning the beach at Versova and other places. However, the BMC itself should do much more to educate people about the dangers of dumping waste into the sea,” an activist observed.
Mumbai has a 34 km-long coastline. An officer of the MCGM's Solid Waste Management (SWM) department said, Around 250 metric ton of garbage is collected from the beaches every day. But during monsoon about 400 metric tonne of garbage floats on beaches. Maximum accumulates on Versova, Juhu and Aksa beaches.”
According to MCGM officials, money paid to the contractor is not on the amount of garbage collected by them, but on the extent of cleanliness they maintain at the beaches. Civic engineers monitor the cleaning. However, activists say that the ground reality speaks for itself.