By-lanes and house-gullies (the narrow area between the rear side of two buildings) interweave the Fort area. Many residents and shopkeepers tend to throw their garbage in these house-gullies causing drainage pipes to get blocked and damaged and consequently causes drainwater to overflow.
Kunti Oza, head of Clean Mumbai Foundation, and Theresa Pinto, a sensitive downtown resident, decided to come together and start a cleanliness drive in this area. The duo, along with a few other volunteers, conducted an awareness workshop at Bai Kabi Bai School in Bora Bazaar. The main objective was to create awareness not just among the children but also amongst the shopkeepers and local residents. They also selected a team to conduct a clean-up drive in Fort.
Quite a few like-minded residents came forward to support the drive. Kunti Oza said, “We are now a team of six ladies–Saroj Kapadia, Veena Shetty, Menka Dalal, Jaswanti Maru, and me. Every evening, between 5-7pm, we climb the steep staircases of each building and talk to the residents and shopkeepers, educating them and explaining to them the purpose and necessity of cleanliness. Filthy surroundings give rise to diseases like dengue and malaria. We also explain to the shopkeepers and residents that because of the accumulation of garbage, the area has a massive rodent problem and also that stray animals feed themselves on this garbage. We have now covered Bora Bazaar, Bazaargate and Homi Mody street.”
Oza added that during their visits, the team often found that many residents were very keen to make a change in the surroundings. “Now every building has appointed a person to bring about the change and carry on the good work in their respective building. They appoint a sweeper to collect the garbage and dispose it off in the waste bins provided by the BMC at Fort Market,” said Pinto.
“Our Corporator and the assistant municipal commissioner of A ward, Mr Ganesh Sanap, has been very prompt and helpful in arranging bins, so that they can distributed to every building. The residents are ready to use them instead of throwing garbage in the house-gullies. We distributed dustbins on December 24 at 4:30 pm at Narayan Wadi in Bora Bazaar. Mr Ganesh Sanap and his team, and Mr Anil Bhatia of A ward federation have always extended their full support whenever we have approached them,” said Oza. Anil Bhatia, a senior BMC official, said, “It is a good thing that the residents are finally waking up and are being responsible citizens. It is good to see so many of them come forward and be a part of the change. BMC alone cannot tackle the garbage problem, it is only when people like Kunti Oza and Theresa Pinto come forward that a society becomes a better place to live in. I really commend their dedication towards cleaning the house gullies in the Bora Bazaar area. Since the campaign was launched and till now, there has been a positive change in the area.”
Oza’s idea to display posters and banners on cleanliness awareness was a huge success. The posters and banners had been displayed at all mandals during Ganpati visarjan and Navratri. Kunti and Saroj Kapadia also took the opportunity to speak to the ladies on the occasion of haldi kumkum, enlightening them on the health hazards. “We are now planning to put up posters at all prominent places; even the shopkeepers have welcomed the idea and are completely willing to display these posters at their shops,” said Oza.
Many buildings that have problems accommodating the bins have started employing sweepers to collect their garbage daily and dispose off the garbage in the bins. By doing this they have stopped people from throwing garbage in the house gullies. The team felicitated the leaders of these buildings.
Slowly but surely change is happening, as people are becoming active citizens and do not hesitate to go the extra mile to make the city a better place to live in.