Koli community’s solution to clean up Mumbai’s creeks

An innovative fishing nets installation collected around 500 kg of waste in 3 days from a single outlet in Malad creek.

From Rivers to Sewers

The indigenous coastal communities have been the caretakers of Mumbai’s rich biodiversity and coastline for centuries. Yet, their voices are sidelined when it comes to the city’s livability concerns.

The city’s rivers and creeks, which are critical sources of subsistence and livelihood for these communities and critical to the marine ecology of coastal Mumbai, are being deteriorated to the point of no return.

80,000 - 1,00,000 kg of plastic waste is dumped into Mumbai’s water channels every day

Virtually no marine life is left in Mumbai’s rivers and creeks

The city’s essential rivers and creeks are referred to as “Nallahs”

Rapidly depleting the protective cover of mangroves in the creeks - which are important for Flood Protection.

The Mumbai Climate Action Plan

The Mumbai Climate Action Plan, announced on the 13th March 2022, recognizes the disproportionate impact of climate change-induced hazards on vulnerable communities like the Kolis and talks about increasing the resilience of these communities.

This action plan needs to be made more inclusive by acknowledging the direct impact on the sustenance and the livelihood of the Koli community and other creek-dependent communities due to polluting creeks and the solution they have to offer to address the city’s livability concerns.

The Kolis now catch more plastic in the nets than fish!

The Koli fishermen used this as inspiration and leveraged their traditional fishing craft and techniques to ideate and pilot test an innovative installation to trap the solid waste in Versova creek - ensuring the uninterrupted movement of artisanal fisher boats while creating an efficient method for waste collection.

A co-created solution for a growing problem

Watch how the net filters installation by the Koli Fishermen extracted 500 kg of waste in 3 days!

Process and Implementation

A detailed report by Bombay61 Studio, Tapestry Project and Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic elaborates on the participatory process through which this community-led and innovative solution evolved. It also shares recommendations focusing on introducing the goal of a clean and healthy creek as an agenda for the civic authorities, recognition of the role of the indigenous community and re-classification of nallahs as creeks, scaling up and proper implementation of the Net Filters Installation through multi-stakeholder collaboration, and stringent laws for sewage disposal.

To restore ecological balance to Mumbai’s creeks and support the livelihood of Kolis, tweet to BMC using #NewCatchInTown

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An ingenious solution for reviving Mumbai's rivers and creeks. The Koli Community truly are the original caretakers of our city! #NewCatchInTown @mybmc

There are significant lessons to be drawn from the traditional knowledge of Mumbai's original inhabitants on creek conservation and removing waste from Mumbai’s natural water systems! @mybmc #NewCatchInTown

More than 80,000kgs of plastic waste is dumped into Mumbai’s water channels every day! Our rivers and creeks need saving @mybmc and we have an implementable solution to start cleaning them up! #NewCatchInTown

#NewCatchinTown is an innovative, indigenous community-led solution to salvage creeks from the issue of urban waste and help @mybmc meet its waste management goals. Requesting @mybmc to adopt this model across Mumbai’s creeks and restore them back to their original glory!

The Koli Community has come up with a scalable, adaptable model to restore Mumbai’s creeks and rivers to their glorious past. All we need is for you @mybmc to adopt this model across Mumbai’s creeks #NewCatchinTown

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