The launch of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan led many to believe that days of living in the dirt were finally over. But it’s our attitude that stinks and not our roads and cities.
Versova Beach is one such example of how filthy human beings can get, by littering every place they get their hands on.

It has been turned into a dumping ground with tonnes of garbage piling up on the beach; which once used to be a scenic spot.

This all seemed to change when one lawyer, Afroz Shah decided that the beach had to be saved at all cost. So he started a cleanliness drive in October 2015.

His movement soon became the biggest beach cleaning drive in Mumbai. Around 300 volunteers worked along with Afroz for a mammoth 109 weeks before he called off the movement because of pressure from goons and innate ignorance of the authorities. Soon everywhere there was talk about only one thing- “Versova beach cleanliness drive called off”.

WHAT ALL AFROZ ACTUALLY ACHIEVED

Afroz’s constant struggle to clean Versova Beach was recognized by the United Nations. His excellent efforts led the United Nations to award him with ‘Champions of the Earth’ award. It became one of the largest initiatives that citizens undertook around the world.

Calculations showed that around 40 tonnes of waste were pulled out from the ocean which led to the ocean being healthier and cleaner than ever.

Until this January around 4200 tonnes of plastic waste was removed from Versova beach. This movement also helped in educating the people living in slums about the problems related with defecating on the beach.

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WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR THE MOVEMENT BEING CALLED OFF

Afroz shah’s team was reportedly not on the same page with the authorities. The main reason for conflict became the disposal of garbage after it was removed from the beach and the ocean.

The BMC denied picking the garbage even after it had been properly collected. This led to the beach remaining overall dirty as the garbage was not disposed of properly.

Another problem faced by Afroz was the nuisance created by the goons. There were certain people on the beach that would drink and then create a scene. They littered the beach and abused anyone who tried to pick up their garbage.

The women volunteers were chased by sticks by some particular persons living around the beach. These people were picking up someone else’s garbage but still were threatened and abused. Even after their repeated complaints, no action was taken.

All these were reasons led to the Versova beach cleanliness drive being called off; after it resulted in 9 million kilograms of garbage being cleared off the beach.

What is the need of this facade of ‘Clean India’, if we can’t even help one person who is trying his best to clean his surroundings? 109 weeks of successful efforts were all reduced to dust by the same government, who launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with great pomp and show.

Afroz Shah and his team were failed by the authorities and we can only hope that timely remedial measures are taken so that the cleanliness drive can flourish once again.


Image Credits: Google Images

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