Everything About Versova Beach , Mumbai
Versova Beach is one of the most popular places in Mumbai, but by 2015, the beached was filled with up to 5.5 feet of garbage, most of it plastic. It became a dumping ground for the residents are became the filthiest beach in Mumbai, but in October 2015 a young lawyer by the name of Afroz Shah moved into area along with Harbansh Mathur, an 84-year-old (who passed away in 2016), began efforts to clean up the beach, Shah and Harbansh Mathur began clearing the litter including plastic bags, cement sacks, glass bottles, pieces of clothing, and shoes among others. In less than a year, their efforts convinced over 300 citizens to join the cleanup campaign.
Eventually, Shah started a volunteer organization, Versova Residents Volunteers, and encouraged volunteers to show up for weekly “dates with the ocean” – so called because of how arduous the work was. Each Sunday the volunteers would gather to remove as much trash as possible, but this was not an easy task, Afroz faced a number of difficulties, which included changing the mindset of people, changing the outlook of municipal authorities, and getting both to work together.
In an interview with Firstpost, Shah said that the BMC will now be responsible to sustain the cleanliness of the beach and that clean-ups will take place round the clock. In July 2016, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called it the world’s largest beach cleanup with the participation of top UN officials and Shah was honored with the “Champion of the Earth” award by the United Nations Environment Programme in recognition of his vision and hard work. A report by Mumbai Mirror asserts that a total of 4,733 tonnes of garbage was removed from the beach in December of 2017. The volunteers also cleaned up 52 public toilets and planted over 50 coconut trees. In early 2018, Olive Ridley sea turtles returned to the beach for the first time in 20 years to nest and hatchlings were observed heading toward the sea, this indicated that the environment was now safe for these turtles to live in.
“Versova is now clean and a fresh tender is already in place. I feel my work here is complete and it is time I moved on,” said Shah, adding that he will support volunteers if needed. “I am going to take up another flashpoint within the city that needs clean-up efforts as well as community development, but I am yet to decide where. The idea is to commence work from ground level convincing citizens to connect with nature.”
Also Read : 11 Must Visit Beaches In Andhra Pradesh