Oz NGO teams up with locals to rid Hooghly ghat of waste

Kolkata: 2 Sept, 2019 (Times of India)

A clean-up programme was launched at Mullick Ghat, slightly downstream from the Howrah bridge, on Sunday, with hundreds of volunteers cleaning up the Hooghly bank. The clean-up project was funded by Lochie Burke, cofounder of Bouddi Solutions, an Australian Environment product and services initiative.

Burke has decided to put in 50% of his profits into cleaning the world’s largest rivers. On Sunday, he was aided by his French collaborator, Pauline Laravoire, founder of Y-East, and Kolkata’s citizens. The Ganges is one of the 10 big rivers in the world which flow in a huge amount of plastics into the oceans. According to an estimate, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans and 90% of the waste will be brought in by big rivers.

“It was also a great learning process. While picking up waste from the mud, you actually realise how dirty, polluted and stinky our water eco-systems are because of human activities. And I am wishing no human nor animal to live in this,” said Laravoire.

In support of the Namami Gange programme, the initial phase of the clean up will address river surface cleaning and public awareness, focusing on the education and behavioural change of the linking communities surrounding the Ganges in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal to minimise the Ganges’ adverse impact on the world’s oceans. In partnership with Y-East, Bouddi plans to engage over 100 locals in the first phase of the Hooghly River Clean Up Project, targeting the unemployed and providing working opportunities, family support, education and basic health care.

The event began at 10am and went on till noon. Teams from Bouddi and Y-East, with partners, friends and citizens, cleaned up a specific area before high tide. Citizens and volunteers from organisations like Future Hope, Earth Day Network, Vital Waste and Active Citizens Together for Sustainability (ACTS) got their hands and feet dirty trying to clean up the ghat.

Ajay Mittal, director, Earth Day Network, said, “It was great to be a part of this initiative.”

As a closing gesture, Burke took a swim in the river after the drive. “If we want to continue enjoying all that our waterways and oceans have to offer, the time for action is now. I am not going to stand by and watch our marine life be replaced by plastic waste,” Burke said.