Tourism, while being a boon to this hill station, is also its bane, with a large number of visitors throwing garbage around. “Matheran is a small and a delicate place but the percentage of footfalls is very high. It’s a challenge to control the waste they produce, and how they interact with the environment,” says Prachi Ujjwal, co- founder of The New Bombay Design and MGF curator.
The festival, now in its second year, works with Matheran Hill Station Municipal Council and Matheran Pratisthan, an NGO set up to realise the vision of putting the hill station on the global map.
Apart from reviving the cultural and social aspects of Matheran, MGF also focuses heavily on environment conservation. From waste segregation to electricity generation using biogas, the team at Matheran Pratisthan and the municipal council, with the help of locals, are starting a revolution. Prachi explains, “We start from the waste that is generated every day by tourists, residents and hotels. First, the waste is segregated into biodegradable and nondegradable materials. The biodegradable waste is transported to the biogas plant set up in Matheran and converted into biogas and electricity, which supplies power to the town’s street lights. Nondegradable materials like plastic bottles are sent to a crushing machine, which produces biodiesel out of it.”