Mumbai Beach Undergoes Drastic Makeover in Mega Clean Up Drive

284 tonnes of plastic and filth were removed, manually and earnestly over 5 hours by more than 500 volunteers. 

3 min read
Mumbai Beach Undergoes Drastic Makeover in Mega Clean Up Drive

The ‘Clean up Versova’ drive hit its crescendo on Saturday, when over 500 residents, Bollywood celebrities, BMC labourers and UN officials, including Eric Solheim, Chief of United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) and Lewis Pugh, the UN Patron of the Oceans, gathered to manually remove over 2.84 lakh kilograms of trash from the 2.5-km long beach, effectively making it the biggest beach clean up in history.

Started by local hero and lawyer Afroz Shah, the drive by Versova Residents Volunteers (VRV) is now in its 43rd week since October 2015, and becomes bigger with each passing weekend.

Over 500 people help remove more than 284 tonnes of plastic, filth and marine debris. (Photo courtesy: Twitter/Gaurav)

The Sheer Will of Citizens

The beach after the clean-up drive. (Photo courtesy: Twitter/Gaurav)

Apart from the UN dignitaries, representatives of the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association, members of the Koli Samaj, lawyers from the Andheri Bar Association, students from the Whistling Woods International Film and Television Institute and Bollywood celebrities Pooja Bhatt and Deepak Dobriyal also joined the efforts, making it an overwhelming success – a feat considered worthy enough for UNEP to go live during the clean up drive, straight from Versova!

After the beach clean up, members of VRV sailed towards Malad creek with local fishermen in their boats and held nets while pulling out more than 1,000 kilograms of plastic bags and food wrappers.

A Ray of Hope

Every inch of the beach was covered in litter when we began. We picked up 673 shoes within a radius of just 10 metres. By the end of it, everyone came together with one mission, to protect our environment and make history.
Lewis Pugh, maritime lawyer, campaigner of clean oceans and Patron of the Oceans, speaking to Hindustan Times

A spark has been ignited with the success of this citizen-civic model of beach clean ups. Pugh will be submitting a report with findings to the UNEP, and will assess whether this model can be replicated across South Asia and the world.

Filmmaker Subash Ghai with students from Whistling Woods at the beach cleanup on 24 July, 2016. (Photo courtesy: Twitter/AIR News)
This is a campaign that needs to be funded, planned and scaled, the beach segmented and it needs four stakeholders, government, businesses, media and citizens to each play a role. Ultimately, however, government and local administration is responsible for ensuring beaches are clean and rivers are clean and that is not a responsibility they can delegate to citizens who pay taxes to see that beaches are safe and clean. 
Lewis Pugh, speaking to Mid-Day

Even before flying down to Mumbai, Pugh wrote to CM Devendra Fadnavis inviting him to join the drive, but received no response.

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