As many of us know that Versova Beach is one of the dirtiest beaches in Mumbai. The beach is located in the north-western part of the city. It was covered in waste until the locals decided to take matters into their own hands.
It all started in 2015 by Afroz Shah, a Mumbai-based lawyer and within no time, had the support of enough volunteers who helped him out through this process. This cleanliness effort was also carried out with the help of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which is one of India’s richest civic bodies.
When Afroz was not busy with his work, he organized volunteer camps for people who wanted to help clean up the beach. Afroz’s efforts have been recognized by the United Nations and he has also been awarded ‘The Champions of The Earth’ award. The cleaning drive would take place every Sunday.
While he spent close to 109 weeks on the effort, Afroz has finally reached saturation point. We are to be blamed for it. Afroz took to Twitter and announced the suspension of the drive. Afroz also justified why he decided to stop doing this and apologized to his country and the ocean.
In his Twitter announcement, he has cited “non-clearance of picked up garbage” and “abuse by goons” as his reasons for abandoning the two-year effort.
Week 109 cleanup.Volunteers abused by goons for picking up garbage.Administrative lethargy,non clearance of picked up garbage and abuses is what we are https://t.co/ydEzp638C6 largest beach cleanup is suspended.Tried my best and I failed.Forgive me my ocean and my country. pic.twitter.com/XdFJMfZNeV
— Afroz Shah (@AfrozShah1) November 19, 2017
In an interview, Afroz said, “I have failed. I am sorry to have let people down but I have failed. It is very difficult to scavenge waste from the beach. We have collected nine million kg of waste. We all struggled, the infrastructure was there, but if some people are not willing to clean our oceans then there is no way out.”
He mentioned that despite collecting all the waste, the authorities refused to ensure that it is picked up and taken far away from the beach. He also spoke about the goons who sit and drink at the beach and misbehave when they are asked not to litter around.
Watch The Video Here:
The BMC, on the other hand, blames the citizens for not collecting the garbage properly and mixing it up with sand. Before we complain about how we are not making any efforts to change the world, we need to look at people like Afroz who single-handedly took an initiative.
However, Afroz decided to resume the campaign after a week. Afroz Shah said that Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Aditya Thackeray personally intervened and urged him to take up the cause again. “They said that such an amazing citizen initiative should not stop,” he said.
Thank you to the multitude of people from India and around the globe who stood up for mother nature. Gratitude and love to each of them.
Week 111 schedule .
Sat and sunday:
3 to 5 pm – Marine litter cleaning.
9 to 11am – Awareness to stop littering in to ocean. pic.twitter.com/hn9NhuLCQl
— Afroz Shah (@AfrozShah1) November 29, 2017
The campaign will again start on Saturday. Robust mechanism and machinery have been put in place with the help of the BMC. Police also assured that during the cleaning drives every weekend, officers will be deployed to make sure the volunteers are not heckled. Afroz says that from coming weekend they will not only be cleaning garbage but also will sensitize people to marine litter.
“By 2050 there is going to be more plastic in the ocean than fish,” he says with concern.
Such people must be encouraged and offer support. Hope, the goons will get to know the fact and realize their mistake.