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Mumbai: Civic body struggles as furniture, medical waste & construction debris clog nullahs

Officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) claim that a huge amount of waste is dumped into nullahs bordering slum pockets as well as other posh residential areas.

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Cleaning of drains in Mumbai is an arduous task as it does not only involve desilting. The nullahs are filled with human waste, medical waste, pieces of old furniture, suitcases, construction debris, and household items.

Officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) claim that a huge amount of waste is dumped into nullahs bordering slum pockets as well as other posh residential areas. "Mumbai treats its nullahs and rivers alike; as a dumping ground. If the lack of civic sense can be attributed to for the waste collected from slum areas, how to justify the junk found in nullahs in and around posh areas occupied by educated people?" said a civic official, who works with the Storm Water Drain (SWD) department.

Another civic official pointed out that the kind of business carried out along or close to nullahs also play a vital role. "Drains near the Malwani region and even close to the Milan subway are full of fabric waste as such areas have many small-scale fabric units. Similarly, in nullahs around Oshiwara, we find pieces of furniture, plywoods and other wooden junk," the official further said.

Dr Saeeda Khan, the NCP councillor from Kurla, said that during 2018's nullah cleaning work, suitcases, deflated footballs, tyres and mattresses were removed from her area. "I made a video and circulated it among the residents of my ward. I requested them to not treat drains as dumping yards as, if choked, it will impact them directly," she said. Khan further added that the BMC needs to be blamed for failing to create awareness and not having a good mechanism to remove garbage.

Khan also said that while we talk about garbage that is dumped in nullahs and rivers, we cannot ignore the civic body's lack of planning that makes sewerage get into nullahs. "Since there are no sewer lines in certain areas, people connect their sewer lines to the drains that should be draining out rainwater," she said.

Ravi Raja, leader of the opposition in BMC said that seeing the amount of plastics in the nullah's now its evident that the plastic ban has gone down the drain. “Plastic ban has been a complete failure as the amount of plastic from drains has not reduced at all and BMC needs to explain this,” he mentioned.

Gopal Jhaveri, Founder of River March an organisation working for rejuvenation of Mumbai's river and also initiated a clean up drives of Dahisar and the mouth of Poisar river shared that these drives gave them an understanding of how Mumbai treats the tributaries of rivers. “Furnitures and other wastes are common, we have seen medical waste including abandoned foetuses, carcasses of stray dogs and other animals dumped, which shows how we as a city lack a proper waste management system,” he said.

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