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Versova beach clean-up: Maharashtra CM Fadnavis says he will join the drive

Lawyer Afroz Shah announced on Sunday that he would suspend the clean-up owing to threats from local goons and the BMC’s failure to clear the trash

mumbai Updated: Nov 24, 2017 12:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Versova,Mumbai,Mumbai beaches
Afroz Shah with the CM on Thursday.(HT)

Even as chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met volunteers of the Versova beach clean-up to convince them not to abandon the work, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said they have removed 75% of the 5lakh kg garbage left uncollected since June.

Lawyer Afroz Shah announced on Sunday that he would suspend the clean-up owing to threats from local goons and the BMC’s failure to clear the trash. “The remaining garbage will be cleared by Friday,” said Prashant Gaikwad, assistant municipal commissioner and ward officer. “A ramp constructed by the Maharashtra Maritime Board made it difficult to access the area during the monsoon. We have made tremendous difference at both beaches, especially at Juhu.”

Fadnavis promised government support to the clean-up. “The CM praised Afroz for his contribution in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by cleaning beaches and assured him all the support from government,” the chief minister’s office tweeted on Thursday.

Shah told HT, “Vested mindsets have stalled the clean-up. Until an on-ground systematic mechanism to clear trash is planned, it will remain stalled. We had a detailed discussion with the chief minister who shared his interest in joining the beach clean-up next week. We are yet to take a call whether the drive will happen. He [Fadnavis] was surprised over the issues. He immediately called up the local ward officer and asked whether there was any external pressure that had stopped him from clearing the garbage. The CM set up a meeting with the joint commissioner of police Deven Bharti regarding security issues as well.”

He said concerns over marine litter were shared by Fadnavis. “The CM wants to come up with a marine litter policy and told us to do the ground research for the same, which will include functioning of sewage treatment plants and proper solid waste management strategies across Mumbai beaches. The draft policy will also entail converting waste to energy and we will be submitting our findings soon,” said Shah.

The minister of state of housing and urban affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, had raised the issue on Thursday, assuring United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) head Erik Solheim that Shah not only had support from the international community but also the Centre and millions of citizens.

Sources told HT that a local politician from the area had issued instructions to sabotage the clean-up. “It is surprising that after the issue was taken up by the media, the garbage was cleared in record time,” the source said.

BJP MLA from Versova Ameet Satam said a comprehensive beach-cleaning tender, which has already been floated for Juhu, is expected next week. “The tender was made using inputs from citizens and solid waste management department of the BMC. A model using the installation of booms to collect domestic waste at marine outfalls before it enters the sea has been shown to the civic chief and is expected to be incorporated in the 2018 desilting tender.”

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 21:43 IST