Save the Sea:The Queen’s Necklace or Sea of Waste

The first thing one can associate with Mumbai is the Queen’s necklace or the marine drive — the wide sea that encloses Mumbai. One close look at it and you’ll want to spend the rest of your life there. However, this feeling does not stay with you for long. You are most likely to spot someone throwing litter into the sea. People are seen throwing garbage into the sea as if it is a never-ending garbage bin. The water is full of waste and junk. A recent study conducted by the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) for the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) revealed that the North Maharashtra coast is India’s most polluted; not that the South coast is any better.


The Maharashtra coast (popularly known as Konkan) stretches from Bordi or Dahanu in the North to Redi or Terekhol on the South. It is considered 30 to 50 km wide. It is home to around 50 varieties of algae, 27 species of mangroves, 30 types of marine animals and 50 species of birds. The low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water are posing a threat to the diverse aquatic life. If this piece of information does not affect you, maybe this will. A report by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) indicates that the mercury levels in the fish found in Mumbai’s waters are almost twice the permissible level. It comes as a warning to fish-eaters. Scared now, aren’t you? Maybe this will encourage humans a tad bit in conserving aquatic life.


Increasing urbanization in densely populate cities such as, Thane, Mumbai or fast developing cities such Alibag, Ratnagiri is responsible for the generation of huge quantities of sewage which lead to disposal problems. Series of industrial belts which are being developed has resulted in increased industrial effluents. The wastes are discharged into the water without proper treatment. The overload of nutrients through these discharges affects the normal characteristics of water and water life.


The study conducted by NIO shows that from Dahanu to Murud, along the northern coastline, there is presence of organic substance (chemical and domestic pollutants) in the water. There is also more petroleum contamination in the creeks of northern Maharashtra as compared to the South. Some of the major pollution high regions along the North coast are Dahanu (industrial, domestic), Tarapur (industrial, domestic), Thane (industrial, domestic, port-based), and Bandra (domestic). The regions along the South cost are minor pollutants and include Ratnagiri (industrial, port-based, domestic), Vengurla (domestic), and Vashishti (industrial, domestic).

“The vibrant fishing community has disappeared with the fish,” says Prakash Gole of the Ecological Society. Factories which produce pesticides, agrochemicals, dyes, have been dumping untreated chemicals into the river. Fisher folks who eat fishes from the rivers are found to be infected with cancer. Examination of water samples from the water supply show that it is unfit for drinking.

Steps to control pollution

A ray of hope was seen when the MPCB decided to promote eco-friendly Ganesha idols. The idols made from Plaster of Paris float on the water surface and increase the pollution. The board has decided to invite more artists who can experiment with different ingredients to invent the idols. “We are looking for options, which would be economically viable and easy for transportation,” said Radhesham secretary, MPCB.Mopalwar, member.

A comprehensive program for coastal development requires detailed information on levels of pollutants, quality and quantity of waste water entering the system, the flora and fauna inhabiting the area, etc. Data requirements are very high and it is necessary to adopt a multidisciplinary approach for proper evaluation. With this view, the MPCB approached the NIO to undertake studies to assess the status of the coastal ecology, with the following objectives:-

* To monitor ecology of coastal areas in order to identify changes in water quality and utilize the findings to suggest suitable corrective measures.
* To monitor for indicator pollutants in areas identified to be contaminated with specific pollutants.
* To undertake predictive modeling of selective marine areas for planned disposal of industrial and domestic effluents.

What we can do?

As part of the civilized society, it is our responsibility to follow rules and save the environment. The Government must impose a fine on those found violating these rules. Proper garbage disposal facilities should be provided near the beaches and promenades, to prevent the public from littering into the sea. Schools and colleges must initiate beach clean-up drives and create awareness among the youth. If you see someone littering, you must raise your voice against it. These small steps will go a long way in protecting the water, and ensuring safety of aquatic life.

Therefore, we should all join hands for this common cause and make Mumbai a better place to live.

Roohi Mahapatra

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