Catalysed by tech, Mumbai activists propel green wins | Mumbai News

Mumbai: Activism in the city has long been led by lone warriors against the regime. The activist, often armed with more than moral outrage, sought to dispel pent-up public anger against the authoritarianism of the authorities and turn it into mass action.
Victory comes after years of fierce battles in the street or in the courtroom. Defeat hits with equal regularity. In Mumbai, 2021 has changed something in the nature and potential spread of the activity. technology. With the help of the media, she helped issues ranging from open spaces to the environment, and moves against issues ranging from pollution to corruption.
In all fairness, the power of Twitter and Facebook first came to light during the ARRI protests in late 2019 when news spread quickly about the felling of trees at a metro yard site under cover of darkness. But the full impact of outreach on social media was only felt during the second wave of Covid in early 2021. Facing shortages of life-saving necessities, from intensive care beds to oxygen cylinders, patients and their relatives began tagging young leaders on social media. social for help. It might not have been the kind of crowding of citizens we’ve seen, with strangers helping each other, otherwise.
If Robin Mascarenhas of Adam’s Public Party set up an NGO, Khana Shahi, to distribute cooked food to daily bets, Yuva Sina employee Rahul Kanal, who runs the NGO I Love Mumbai, used Twitter to feed the stray animals. The channel said: “During the second wave, we distributed dog and cat food to NGOs to distribute it in their areas. Social media played a big role. But what won today is participation on the ground.”
But overall, speaking of results, 2021 has been a mixed bag of activity. Several major policies, such as those regarding open spaces, have remained on paper despite numerous pleas from urban planners and activists. It is not surprising, then, that the blame rests with the government. Zoro Pathena, a prominent voice of Save Aarey campaign said, “I will give the government 8 out of 10 based on its intent and desire but only 3 out of 10 to implement and implement. She decided to move the metro car shed from Ari district, but she was unable to find another plot of land. For the warehouse, it also took nearly two years to recover the criminal cases against the Ari protesters.” Noting that the state amended the tree law in 2021, he said the implementation of the 1975 law was so poor that having a new law wouldn’t help much.
Activist Nishant Bangira, who is fighting to save Powai Lake, said there was no transparency or consultation on the lakeside jogging path project. “Almost all projects are shrouded in secrecy,” he said. “The authorities must become more receptive and transparent.” “We’ve used Twitter and other social media to amplify our causes, but 360-degree communication is essential. Community mobilization at the grassroots level is important.”
Worryingly, the city still has no plan to manage open public spaces. Even as BMC nears completion of a full term, only civic open space policy remains in the budget statements while city parks and gardens remain in the hands of contractors. NAGAR trustee Nayana Cataplia said they made policy proposals about a year ago but there was no response from the BMC.
Social media may have helped amplify the causes and issues, but activists still rely heavily on mainstream traditional media to get the attention of the authorities. Many activists say the support of the mainstream media has been very important in promoting causes and mobilizing public support. Also, veterans have continued to embrace their causes with tried and tested methods. That is, despite not every issue getting the mass support it deserves, unlike the Save Aarey movement. One such issue is noise pollution. However, Samira Abdelali, organizer of the Awaz Foundation, said 2021 was a good year for the anti-noise cause. “It may be because of Covid, but the noise activity is getting wider now. More are reaching out and want to take up the anti-noise issue. The silence of the lockdown has made people realize how much noise pollution is everywhere. So, we hope that the anti-noise activity will grow.” She said there has also been a self-organization by Mandal Ganpati and other festival organizers to reduce noise.
Last but not least, RTI continues to be a valuable toolkit. Activist Anil Galgalli, who has exposed several irregularities, including some related to the construction of BMC’s oxygen plant in hospitals, said Mumbai has a history of civic activism and a very active civil society. He said that while many causes are gaining traction and turning into mass campaigns, being an activist has been largely an individual pursuit. “Activists over the years have chased issues that matter to the city, no matter how popular it is. This should be the way forward in 2022. Social media works, but at least for me, RTI is the main tool. Mumbai has always had it.” A constructive activity and the same should continue.”
He said the challenges are many. “Access to information is becoming more and more difficult with this pandemic, but we will have to overcome this. Better coordination and collaboration may help save time and energy. Activists have been part of the city’s social and governance structure for a long time and they have done it to stay that way.”

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