For 16 years, 53-year-old Sadanand Patil has been removing garbage from Mahim beach mostly on his own. However, on Saturday morning, 3,000 students helped him remove 3,300kg of waste from the beach within three hours.
Students from over 25 schools and colleges gathered on the beach — just 10 minutes away from Mahim Dargah — to collect the remains of Ganpati idols and other trash. The drive was organised by the Coast Guard to observe the International Coastal Clean-up day.
Armed with a raincoat, gloves and a half-filled bin bag, 13-year-old Harshal Ameta was barking orders to his friends to pick up a tangle of plastic bags and garlands. “This is the second bin bag that we are filling. We filled the first one in less than an hour,” said the Class 8 student of Dr Antonio Da Silva High School.
“Usually, I am particular about disposing of waste properly and this is the first opportunity I got to clean up a beach with my friends so even if the weather is bad, I did not want to miss it,” said Unnati Ranjati Chawda, 17, a student of Maharashtra College.
Between 8am and 11am, the Coast Guard organised a clean-up of the Girgaum, Dadar, Juhu, Ratnagiri, Murud, Dahanu and other beaches simultaneously. It sent a team of 75 men to Kanohji Angre, an island off the Alibaug beach, to collect trash from its shores.
“There have been efforts by citizens and organisations to clean up beaches like the ones at Dadar and Girgaum. However, hardly any effort is made to clean up the stretch at Mahim so we invited students to help us in cleaning this beach,” said Commandant Aditya Kumar, district operations and planning officer, Indian Coast Guard.
The trash that was removed during the drive included plastic bags, wrappers and cups, flowers and other decorative materials, thermocol, plastic bottles, broken glass bottles, a school bag and condoms.
“The kids have completed almost three days’ worth my work,” said Patil, while helping the students carry their trash bags. “It was fun to work with them,” he said.
The waste collected was transported to the Deonar dumping ground by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) workers.