In a stark reminder of how polluted our oceans have become, strong seasonal tides and monsoon rains have led to thousands of tonnes of rubbish washing up on the shores of Mumbai. Some local residents are now calling for action.
Since July 13, rubbish – which the city of Mumbai dumps into the ocean – has been returning to dry land due to the summer’s strong tides, with waves reaching nearly five metres on Sunday. So far, city authorities have collected 12,000 tonnes of rubbish from the city’s famed Marine Drive.
On social networks, Mumbai residents published photos and videos of the seashore covered in rubbish, noting that Mother Nature was simply “giving us back what we gave her”.
Some Mumbai residents put on gloves and helped municipal workers with the cleanup, including members of the association “Beach Warriors”.
“We started on at 8 am on Saturday and worked nonstop until 8 am on Sunday. This was the first time that a 24-hour cleanup was organised in India,” said Beach Warriors founder Chinu Kwatra.
A new ban on plastic
In India, the war on plastic is in full swing. Since March 23, following a ruling by the government of Maharashtra (of which Mumbai is the capital), it is illegal to manufacture, sell or even use plastic that is non-recyclable. Violators can face fines ranging from 5,000 to 25,000 rupees (€61 to 308), and, in the worst cases, a prison sentence of up to three months.
But several locals that spoke to FRANCE 24 worried that these measures wouldn’t fix the damage already caused by the poor management of waste. Indeed, according to a 2014 study, more than 1,300 billion tonnes of plastic are already floating on the surface of the Indian Ocean.