It is quite unlikely for Mumbai's Juhu and Versova beach to be in a clean state a day after Anant Chaturdashi. Because of COVID-19, the maximum city quietly bid adieu to Bappa, which left the beaches of the city the cleanest ever at the time of immersion.
To avoid overcrowding, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had set up 168 artificial ponds in all its 24 wards. 37 mobile idol collection vans were also deployed by the civic body.
Versova and Juhu beach, situated in K (west) ward, had 11 artificial ponds.
"Most of the immersions in KW took place in artificial lakes, as people refrained from going to the beach," said Assistant Municipal Commissioner Vishvas Mote.
Even at the beachfront, people were not allowed to assemble. “Devotees would give their idols at the BMC collection centre, from where our staffers would take the idol and immerse it in the sea," he added. The civic body informed, throughout the ten days festival, a total of 1.35 lakh idols were immersed this year, of which 70,233 idols were immersed in the artificial lakes.
Solid waste, including nirmalya, has fallen down by 70 per cent this year. “It is why the water bodies remained less polluted," said Ashok Yamgar, chief engineer solid waste management, BMC.
Activist and founder of Beach Warriors initiative, Chinu Kwatra said, in Juhu, there were hardly 20 idols on Thursday. Every year, more than 350 idols are collected by his team during the clean up drives. "Like every year, we did a mini clean up drive this year at Juhu and Dadar beach to mark our team's three year anniversary. The number of idols lying on the beach were very few and not much was there to clean, all thanks to artificial ponds," Kwatra said.
Environmentalist Zoru Bhathena stated, this year, he has seen Juhu beach the cleanest ever during the time of Ganpati festival. "The number of immersions taking place in Juhu beach were very less this year. Also, the beach was clean and pristine. There was hardly any chaos this year and it felt the ecology was in its place," Bhathena said.
Green warrior Afroz Shah, who arranges frequent beach clean up drives every year during the Ganeshotsava stated, the civic body should encourage the usage of artificial ponds for ecological conservation. "The idols immersed in the sea this year were only ten per cent of what happens every year. People might give it a thought and start adapting to more eco-friendly ways of celebration for the sake of ecology," Shah stated.