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Versova Beach clean-up: Activist Afroz Shah decides to 'move on' from campaign, shares video of dramatic improvement

Lawyer-activist Afroz Shah, in a video shared on Twitter on Sunday, showed the dramatic improvement in the state of Mumbai's Versova Beach over the course of three years. Shah also announced that he has decided to "move on" from the beach clean-up drive, which he had been spearheading since October 2015.

Shah has reason to call the clean-up "miraculous". At the beginning of the initiative, only Shah and a neighbour, Harbansh Mathur, had taken up the task of ridding the beach of all the garbage. Over the course of time, the project grew manifold in scale and caught the attention of government authorities, celebrities and the United Nations, which named the lawyer-activist one of the "Champions of the Earth" in 2016.

Speaking to Firstpost on how authorities can ensure cleanliness at the beach in future, Shah said:"The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has given a six-year tender to clean up the Versova Beach to a company named Spectron Engineers. The tender is of Rs 22 crore. They will be responsible for deploying the required number of workers and machinery for the upkeep of the place. The contract mentions that the clean-up will take place round the clock. This will ensure sanitation at the Versova Beach and will also protect the ocean and marine species."

Shah added that on special occasions, such as weekends, Ganpati immersion days and Chhathh Pooja, when the footfall is high at the beach compared to other days, the company has been asked to deploy additional workers and machines.

On the BMC's responsibility, Shah said, "The municipal corporation must supervise the clean-up properly, as the company has been given a significant amount of money for this purpose, through the tender."

The Versova Beach was often dubbed Mumbai's dirtiest beach in the past. While a part of the filth used to be trash that residents of the area would dump on the beach, a lot of garbage also ended up at the beach from other areas via several creeks in north west Mumbai.

In March, residents of Versova were thrilled after a group of volunteers noticed Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings at the beach. The turtles are believed to have been sighted at the beach after 20 years. Officials had then said that the clean-up drive likely created a conducive environment for the turtles.

While describing the challenges he faced during his campaign, Shah said: "The first challenge was to change the mindset of the people who live around the beach and also of the people who litter on the streets and the nearby creeks, thereby contributing to the unsanitary surroundings. The second challenge was to change the outlook of municipal authorities. In some campaigns, the authorities came on board, but the people din't; in others, the situation was precisely the opposite. Getting both to join a cause is a difficult task."

In response to Shah's tweet on Sunday evening, a number of people congratulated him and expressed happiness at the improved conditions at the Versova Beach. These included Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray and actors Dia Mirza and Raveena Tandon.

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Updated Date: Nov 11, 2018 20:47:42 IST