This is a joint initiative of United Way Mumbai and Ladybird Environmental Consulting LLP. We serve as knowledge partner and monitoring and evaluation agency. The current project addresses rejuvenation of Chimbai beach through clean up drives, biodiversity surveys, bio-shielding and community engagement.
Project Location: Chimbai Road, Bandra (West), Mumbai.
Project Duration: Apr 2019- Mar 2021
Project Partner: United Way Mumbai
Chimbai Beach was once a quaint fishing village. Today, the rocky Chimbai beach in Bandra is the city’s dirtiest, with plastic and household garbage washing ashore and getting stuck in the cracks and crevices. What changed around this 400-year-old settlement that turned a sandy beach into a mini dump yard and has severely affected fishing — once the only occupation of its residents? The village was dotted with just 20 houses that belonged to the fishing community.
Around 60 years ago the beach was known to being sandy. In 2017, Chimbai was declared Mumbai’s dirtiest beach, after NGO Reef Watch Marine Conservation carried out a survey of 10 beaches. Members of one of the largest fishing communities said fishing activities had dropped by 98% in the past decade at Chimbai. They now need to go 3 km into the sea to find fish now.
Encroachments grew, the sand was removed for human activity and fishing boats, which could once head to sea from Chimbai’s shores now get stuck in all the plastic. The fishing village originally was just a kilometre long from St Andrews Church to Carter Road. Population rose, the village grew. With nowhere else to throw waste, residents began dumping garbage at the beach or into the sea and the municipal authorities paid little attention to cleaning it.
As one of the methods of assessing the impact of project impact we would be documenting the marine life of the project site. The presence and absence of species will indicate the health of the shore. We intend to develop a checklist as per the zonation of the shore. We plan to engage M.Sc. students as their dissertation project and train them marine biodiversity studies.
We will carry out baseline survey to asses the biotic presssure on the beach. We will also carry out beach perception surveys among the local communities. Besides we will estimate amount of microplastics present on the shore and also carry out crab count along the shore. We plan to engage 600 corporate volunteers for executing this task.
As the purpose of this project is to protect the beach using public support and making local communities as stakeholders, we propose to conduct regular shore walks for local schools and colleges. We plan to target 1000 participants during the project period. Interested schools and colleges may contact us to register for Free Marine Walks
Eight months back we started this project which supported by United Way Mumbai under Mission Blue at Chimbai Beach. We just published our second quarter report and the results have been interesting. This is the most time consuming and engaging report that we have ever made. The data analysis takes months so is the species identification, but we love the challenge that the data throws at us. The project activities are pretty routine such as conducting marine biodiversity surveys twice a month, engaging corporate volunteers in microplastic surveys, beach perception surveys, clean up drives and so on. So far we recorded 82 species from 12 groups compared. This surprises us because the Chimbai beach inspite of being labelled as dirtiest beach of Mumbai, indeed supports healthy marine life. Out of 85 recorded species ( 82 fauna, 3 flora), 45 were positive indicators of polluted environment, two negative indicators and 25 were neutral species. Among the positive indicators, shelled animals ranked highest that indicate heavy metal pollution. We had previously carried out perception surveys for the local fishing communities and this time we interviewed visitors of Jogger's Par. We collected 132 responses and the outcome of these surveys showed that people are concerned about the deteriorating status of the beach and wish to do something to improve it. We also carried out the analysis of microplastic samples which showed the least amount of plastic found on shore was 5 pieces/ litre while highest was 741 pieces/ litre in the samples. Several environmental issues prevail at Chimbai Beach which if not addressed much of the marine life will get impacted as well as livelihoods and health of local communities.
As per our short study we found out of 32 recorded species, 18 are positive indicators of polluted environment i.e. their presence means the habitat is polluted and nine are negative indicators i.e. they are intolerant to pollution. There are four broader categories of pollution that we derived on these indicators; Heavy metals, chemicals, sewage and global warming. Higher indicators for heavy metals indicate the site is experiencing higher industrial pollution, followed by chemical and then sewage. Increasing water temperatures and salinity is linked with global warming.
In order to understand how local communities perceive the Chimbai beach, we carried out perception surveys among the local fishing community where we collected 73 responses. The outcome of these surveys appear to be that people are concerned about the deteriorating status of the beach however they expected more support from external agencies than they willing to do something on their own. .
We also carried out microplastic survey to assess plastic pollution in the sand. We collected 16 samples, of which nine samples contained microplastic particles. The last activity we conducted was crab count as well crab hole counts. This was mainly done to assess the health of the beach. A total of 457 crab holes and 68 crabs were recorded from 46 quadrants during the survey. In all above activities we engaged 67 corporate volunteers who clocked 268 hours alongwith 15 support volunteers.
Colourful sea sponges, different types of snails and sea anemones, hermit crabs that use seashells as homes, and even corals. You can expect to find all these beautiful creatures at a blue, coastal destination, but they’re right here, at the watery, concretised edge of Mumbai city. At this bustling urban jungle’s doorstep, lies an entire forgotten marine world.
Ladybird Environmental Consulting LLP in collaboration with United Way Mumbai is hosting Free Marine Walks for Schools and Colleges of Mumbai, Navi-Mumbai
Kindly send us an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
call us on 9082365358/ 9820165525
Anybody who is above 15 years and less than 65 years is a nature enthusiast and believes in environmental protection.