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Govt agency to join Versova beach cleanup

mumbai Updated: Aug 21, 2016 00:27 IST
Badri Chatterjee
beach cleanup

Versova beach clean-up drive underway. People from all walks of life participated in the drive, lending their hands at Versova Jetty beach, Andheri, in Mumbai on Sunday, August 7, 2016. (Vidya Subramanian/ Hindustan Times)

Mumbai: As the citizens’ campaign to clean Versova beach enters its 50th week, government agencies said they will join the programme.

The Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) will join the Versova Residents Volunteers (VRV) to commemorate International Coastal Cleanup Day which is on September 17.

The move comes two weeks after United Nations representatives, including UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh, joined the Versova beach cleanup and collected 6.16 lakh kg of garbage from the northern end of the beach on August 5 and 6.

Officials from MMB told HT that the cleaning drive would cover beaches across the state but will focus on Versova.

“There is an acute garbage crisis at the northern end of Versova, Juhu and beaches towards Madh, Marve where trash is deposited by the sea,” said a senior official from MMB. “We will draft guidelines for the cleanup along with VRV and the civic body by this month end.”

The official added that the cleaning will continue every week from September onwards. “The initiative would be a curtain raiser for the Nirmal Sagar Tat Abhiyaan – a coastal protection and management program — that received the chief minister’s nod in May. We will kick-start the program on Gandhi Jayanti, October 2,” said the official adding that tenders for the state-wide beach restoration project have already been sent out.

He added that the focus is to ensure cleanliness and proper solid waste management so that garbage is properly disposed of and not dumped into roads and drains from where it is carried to the sea. “We will involve the local community in identifying the problems at each beach,” he said.

On Saturday, 40 residents and 20 municipal workers cleared 48,000 kg of trash from the northern end of Versova beach. After Saturday’s cleanup, the quantity of garbage removed by the group over the last 45 weeks has reached 2.8 million kg.

VRV members said they will be meeting MMB officials on Monday to discuss measures to be taken for the joint cleanup programme. “With MMB on board, the idea is to go directly to the source of the problem and collect trash before it leaves the creek,” said Afroz Shah, founder, VRV. “What we are doing is now is preventive action and with the state government’s support, we can eradicate the problem efficiently and much faster.”

What is Marine Litter?

Marine litter: Waste like paper, cloth, glass, rubber, wood, metal, ceramics and plastics, if not properly disposed of, is carried by drains and streams into the sea. Garbage that do not disintegrate in the water is washed up on the beaches.

60-90% of marine litter is plastic

Most common items of plastic trash is cigarette buds, bags, fishing nets, food and beverage containers

(Source: United Nations Environment Programme)

Solutions for cleaner beaches in Mumbai

Dispose of waste carefully: Stop throwing trash on roads, drains and railway tracks. The garbage could end up in storm water drains that empty into the sea

Segregate waste at source: While trash that can be recycled, like plastic, metal, e-waste and paper can be given to recycling agencies, biodegradable waste can be composted. Unsafe and toxic garbage such as medical waste, chemicals and electrical batteries should be sent to agencies that can dispose of the material

More trash bins on the beaches: Food stalls should be restricted to areas with facilities to dispose of waste

Avoid idols made of PoP during festivals like Ganeshotsav and Durga Puja: Reusable idols are good for the environment and for the pocket too

City administration should employ more workers and machinery to keep the beaches clean

Beach guards can enforce anti-litter rules

(Source: Maharashtra Maritime Board)