"Mumbai Is Made And Owned By Mumbaikars," says Environmentalist Subhajit Mukherjee

Known as the “Green Man of Mumbai”, Subhajit Mukherjee has planted more than 60,000 trees under his initiative Mission Green Mumbai. Here are the excerpts from the conversation with Mukherjee at Mumbai Charcha:

"Mumbai Is Made And Owned By Mumbaikars," says Environmentalist Subhajit Mukherjee

Known as the “Green Man of Mumbai”, Subhajit Mukherjee has planted more than 60,000 trees under his initiative Mission Green Mumbai. It is Citizen's Movement to Protect Trees - Plant Trees - Adopt Trees, Environmental Awareness with the motto of "Each One, Plant One". The environmentalist was awarded by the Maharashtra government for this drive.

He also initiated the ‘Majhi Vasundhara Abhiyaan’ as part of water conversation initiative.

The founder of Mission Green Mumbai, is a resident of Ghatkopar and worked as an HR. He left the lucrative field for the betterment of city and environment.

Sharing about his connection with the city in an exclusive interaction talk show named Mumbai Charcha in collaboration with Mumbai Live, Mukherjee said: “Mumbai is a magic city. If you have a vision, Mumbaikars will definitely come forward and support you, such kind of flavor is never experienced anywhere else. In a first-of-its kind, Mumbai is the only place, which has a national park in the centre of the city.”

Here are the excerpts from the conversation:

What is the heart of the matter of the city?

In my opinion, it is difficult to jot down a specific issue. Though one thing hasn’t changed even after decades. In my childhood, I used to read and articulate about save water, save plants; however, even after over 40 years, unfortunately things haven’t changed in real life. Earlier, basic mankind things were free, now even those things are chargeable.

Apart from these, several issues such as traffic, sound pollution, air pollution are faced on a day-to-day basis. Owing to this, the life of city has been degraded.

Can you enlighten about the thought that led to this tree plantation campaign?

For me an eye opening incident was when I read that in 2010, nearly 16,000 people died because of air pollution induced illness. 

It is necessary to cut off the trees, but we have forgotten about sustainability. The need of the hour is realisation that resources are unlimited. Nevertheless, in last five years we have witnessed a tad bit change visible.

After I shifted to Malad, I realized that it is one of the most polluted areas in Mumbai. When I started facing health issues because of it. I began reading upon it and learned that each one of us should have three trees at least.

According to a study, it was reported that in a population of 1 crore, we just have 45 lakh trees. Therefore, we are facing the issue of oxygen. At least 3 crore trees are needed to combat the oxygen and air pollution. That was the time, I decided to plant trees. Our goal is not just to achieve resources (money). Later, I started talking to friends and explain them about planting trees.

In the last few years, Mumbai itself saw some changes. Earlier, scattered rains were witnessed for four months during monsoon, but now it has been observed that 50 per cent of rains is seen just 10-15 days.

What citizens can do to meet the challenges of Climate change?

The country has progressed in many big ways. However, we are easily getting influenced by advertisement. Due to this, basic daily or monthly expenditure has increased. People do not realise that every money they are spending, there is carbon footprint to it. Spending without reconsidering is good for economy but it is leading to lot of environmental issues.

Many places in Mumbai have already become heat island. For example, areas such as Dharavi western and eastern express highway, JVLR and many more, they record at least 4-5 degrees above normal temperature during summers.

Can you elaborate on the need of Water conservation?

It a well-known fact that water is a basic necessity, we cannot survive without it. As studied even in schools, 70% of body is made up of water; therefore if we are able to save and take care of the water, we are done with 70% of the problems.

For me, it is related to trees. As when I was telling people to plant nearly 200 trees in a society, they used to say we will need 2000 litres of water every day to plant so many trees, which is very expensive. Then I came up with innovation that use of grey water (used water) can be done to put in the ground and for sand filter for garden.

Kiran Bedi saw my work and referred me to Niti Aayog. Following which, IIT Bombay came along and we started with rain water harvesting technic during monsoon.

So far, I have shared about all these initiatives 79 colleges, 300 schools in collaboration with Jal Shakti Abhiyaan.

Your Visions for Mumbai?

Mumbai is made by Mumbaikars, they own the city. Albeit, the biggest problem is water shortage, followed by quality of air, mobility and ease of life. Daily lifestyle has taken a toll. We need come together as now BMC, state government has been implementing good policies. We were sleeping for 20 years so now we need to compensate those years by working hard in next five years.

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