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.
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.
Anybody who is above 15 years and less than 65 years is a nature enthusiast and believes in environmental protection.