The Drastic Plastic Effect: Here's why Mumbai’s coastal stretch is under threat

Various studies by different experts show that all the natural disasters faced by Mumbai have been a result of dumping of plastic waste in the ocean

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In an application submitted by an NGO, it was learnt that on a daily basis, Mumbai dumps close to 80 – 110 metric tons (MT) of plastic waste into drains and water channels. The shocking information came to light through an application submitted by environment group Vanashakti before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on December 2018.

The application sheds some light on the state government's failure to curb the pollution of the sea caused by plastic. This includes Maharashtra government's incompetency to install nets across storm water drains in Mumbai to collect waste from nullahs before they are let out into creeks, rivers or the sea.

However, following up to the information, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), in their affidavit, said creeks, rivers and the sea along Mumbai’s 437.71 sq km coastal stretch is under threat with plastic waste as a major source among the municipal solid waste.

Plastic directly enters into nullahs by the general public and slums areas. Discharge of untreated domestic waste accounts for 93 per cent of the source of pollution for these water bodies,” read MPCB’s affidavit.

Meanwhile, Vanashakti's Stalin Dayanand told Hindustan Times that the increase in the disposal of plastic in water bodies has increased due to the negligent attitude of Mumbai residents living near drains and creeks. The applicants added the amount of plastic entering drains and water channels in 2019 has increased if not the same.

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Moreover, experts have claimed that the 2005 Mumbai floods were a result of clogged open surface drains with solid waste including plastic in it. On the other hand, significant changes in land use across the city and illegal construction and encroachments along natural drains and the Mithi river added to the trouble.

As a matter of concern, a 2017 report by US experts suggests that even a 20-centimetre rise would more than double the frequency of flooding in tropical zones such as the Mumbai coast. Whereas the studies conducted by an activist group, Watchdog Foundation indicates that the shore has retreated by more than 20 metres at some Mumbai beaches over the past 15 years.

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