Mumbai’s Versova beach is dirty again. Here’s why
Versova beach is back to being covered with filth, just weeks after Mumbaiites woke up to photographs of the beach looking like a tourist paradise.
Versova residents have been cleaning the beach for the past 90 weeks and have removed more than 5.7 million kg of waste — transforming one of Mumbai’s dirtiest beaches. But its sandy shores are once again filled with trash. The reason? Afroz Shah, the lawyer who led the clean-up campaign with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), studied the source of the trash and found garbage being dumped into nine creeks in Mumbai’s northwest suburbs was washing ashore.
Versova is a flat sandy beach with thick mangroves, some sections of which are also being choked by this trash.
The study found the source of 70% of the trash is the Malad creek — nine other small creeks (see box for names) empty into it. Another 20% of trash comes from 1,000 storm water drains whose opening are along the 2.5km Versova coastline — there’s more waste washing ashore during the monsoon.
“The remaining 10% comes from us directly,” said Shah. “As citizens, we sometimes cheerfully neglect the basic responsibility of dumping our trash in garbage bins, recycling it through composting or even segregating at it our homes.”
A recent study by the state pollution control board found the water around the beach was heavily polluted, mainly because of domestic waste being dumped into the sea. “The sources we identified are all marine outfalls where sewage treatment is negligible, leading to extremely poor water quality,” said Shah.
Shah said this monsoon, the amount of trash that landed daily on the beach was 2 lakh kg. “This is substantially lower than what it used to be in 2014, before we began the clean-up. At that time, 5 to 6 lakh kg of trash would wash ashore every day,” he said.
Residents said the beach was in far better shape after the campaign, but agreed there is a long way to go. “The beach used to be a dumping ground two years ago, with no place to even walk. Now, it is a much more respectable place for jogging or walking,” said Ruchi Dalal, a Versova resident.
BMC officials said they were installing nets to trap plastic waste at the marine outfalls.
“We have started trapping trash at creek edges along Malad. We are also manually cleaning beaches,” said Prashant Gaikwad, assistant municipal commissioner.