Mumbai is a city with creative people. Mumbai is overcrowded and lacks green spaces. The concrete city is being made beautiful by a voluntary group of women known as Rasta Chaap. These women have voluntarily chosen to care for the environment and assist in saving trees.
Officially, the Rasta Chaap group began with their work, in May 2015. This core group of 14 women is connected by something or other common to them. A few were alumni of the same college while others are living in the same locality. Presently, the team has a team of 15 volunteers, apart from the 14 core group members.
The group when started didn’t have any fixed agenda. In the beginning of their project they were just involved in painting the dead trees after taking permissions from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). They started by painting a few trees outside the Jamnabai Narsee High School. Then, expanded their artistic work, outside the Juhu Vile Parle Gymkhana Club.
The Raasta Chaap team then further decided to plant two trees for every dead tree they come across and preserve the trees using fertilizers and pesticides. Initially, the group was self-funded, but today they get some help from volunteers.
So far, the team has successfully painted around 20 trees in Juhu area.
Bollywood actress Twinkle Khanna also joined the core team recently. Archana Shroff, Shaheen Jaffer, Sabishi Shankar, Shirley Singh, Merylin Joseph, Priya Bhimani, Saijal Goenka, Rupali Shah, Shaguna Khatri, Sonal Pal, Neelu Virk, Anuradha Jasani, and Jugnu Shah are the team members. Shirley and Merylin, they make it easy for the team to get permissions from the BMC as they are active ALM (Advanced Locality Management) members.
Raasta Chaap in English is ‘wanderer,’ but the word ‘chaap’ also means ‘mark.’ The group leaves their mark with the makeover and highlighting of the dead trees and transforming them into a beautiful artistic masterpiece. But this also remarks “Every dead tree covered with art is a reminder that the city and the neighbourhood have lost a shade-providing and oxygen-supplying tree, which is a huge loss.”