A host of organisations in neighbouring Ulhasnagar and Ambernath have joined hands to curb pollution, caused particularly during major festivals which is damaging the environment.
The eleven groups have set up a forum and have named it OMG – short for 'Oh My God'. The initiative to bring the NGOs and institutions together was taken by Hirali Foundation, which is working with underprivileged children in Ulhasnagar.
"The inspiration came from my daughter Sparsh after she joined a clean-up drive at Juhu beach, some days after the Ganesh immersion. She was in tears, seeing the way in which the statues were picked up," says Sarita Khanchandani, who together with husband Purshottam – an advocate – set up Hirali three years ago.
That's when they talked about the possibility of a campaign to deal with pollution, specially during festivals. Sparsh had played the role of Iccha as a child in the popular TV serial "Uttaran".
After much consideration, they invited more than 50 organisations to come together in this initiative. Eleven responded, and on August 5, 2014, they set up OMG.
Sarita wishes that the pollution control board would step up vigilance during the festivals, whether it is Dahi Handi, Ganesh, Navratri or Diwali, to check noise or the damage to water bodies due to immersion of idols.
"We will work out ways in which the festivals can be celebrated in an eco-friendly manner," Sarita says. "We will meet the municipal commissioner, tehsildar and collector in Ambernath, Ulhasnagar, and even the deputy commissioner of police, to seek their help in the campaign. We ill also make an appeal to the state and central ministries."
The forum has planned a special programme in schools that will collect signatures of students on a pledge to celebrate festivals in ways that do not cause damage to the environment. "This will help us to curb air, water and noise pollution," she says.