After Versova, clean-up drive kicks off at Dadar beach in Mumbai
When Ravi Jadhav, a resident of Dadar, walked up to the beach in Prabhadevi on Sunday morning to dump a packet of floral waste out of regular habit, he did not expect to be stopped by 30 odd people cleaning the beach. They shouted at Jadhav, “Stop! Do not litter our oceans. Help us clean the beach!” A startled Jadhav quickly walked away realising what he was doing was wrong.
After the Versova beach clean-up, termed as the world’s largest beach clean-up by the United Nations, other dirty beaches in the city are getting attention from volunteers. Led by Thane-based NGO Aarna Foundation, school children, college students and local residents have been cleaning up the Dadar beach, also known as Shivaji Park, for the past 17 weeks. They have removed 80 tonnes of trash with the help of municipal workers.
Chinu Kwatra, co-founder of Aarna Foundation, who spearheaded the clean-up , says, he was heartbroken to see the trash left behind on the beach after the Ganeshotsav immersion in August. “We started with only three volunteers but the strength increased. We have had 75 to 100 participants during one of the clean-ups, from all age-groups.”
Indu Mehta, a resident of Dadar and a professor at Prin L N Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research in Matunga, said “We were inspired by Afroz Shah’s model of the Versova beach clean-up,” she said. Volunteers include students from Mithibhai College (Vile Parle), Kirti College (Dadar), Ratnam College (Bhandup), Satish Pradhan Dnyansadhna College, (Thane), among others.
The trash collected includesplastic waste, clothes, flowers, idol parts made of plaster-of-paris and biomedical waste.
“Every week, citizens and BMC staff manage to collect four to five tonnes of trash. We will contribute wholeheartedly to ensure the beach is clean,” said Venkatesh Chandran Devendar, the consultant appointed by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to help citizens clean the beach. After cyclone Ockhi brushed past Mumbai, on December 10, eight tons of garbage was removed within five hours. “However, there is immediate need for more toilets to contain open defecation, and more dustbins to stop people from littering,” he said.
Kwatra and his team are adamant on making this a weekly affair for the coming year. “ We will ensure awareness prevails till the beach is spotless,” he said