To combat the environmental challenges facing Vashi Sagar Vihar, Mangrove Marshals, a group cleanup initiative, marked their 153rd cleanup drive. Headed by Rasika and Rohit Malhotra, the group has become a symbol of community-driven environmental stewardship, albeit with a plea for increased governmental involvement.
Malhotra, the co-founder of the group, reflected on the inception of their initiative, born out of a simple observation of people littering the mini seashore of Navi Mumbai. Expressing concern over the seeming lack of government participation, he emphasised the need for collaborative action to address the mounting waste issue.
The Mangrove Marshal movement
The Mangrove Marshal movement, initiated six years ago, has grown significantly, with volunteers joining hands for 153 consecutive weeks to clean up mangroves and coastal areas. Malhotra stressed the urgency of the situation, outlining a goal to manage the problem within 10 months. The group focuses not only on cleaning but also on waste segregation, working with schools to instill the importance of responsible waste disposal in students.
Malhotra underscored the critical need for awareness, stating, “Once anyone cleans with their own hands, they don’t litter in life. “The group actively engages with citizens, young and old, in cleanups, college visits, and advocacy programs.”
Highlighting the impact of their efforts around Sagar Vihar, Malhotra noted a significant reduction in garbage and debris. However, he acknowledged that the real challenge lies in preventing further contamination.
Gunvant Kulkarni, a volunteer with the group described the extensive variety of waste, including plastics, rubber, glass, and more, damaging water bodies and endangering marine life. He stressed the need for waste disposal at the household level and the importance of government collaboration with civic society to effectively address the issue.
The volunteers express the urgency for visible and active governmental participation and the group advocates for increased awareness, stricter waste disposal measures, and a collaborative approach to transform waste into a valuable resource.