Mumbai Shoreline Shines After “World’s Largest Beach Clean-Up”


There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Once considered to be one of Mumbai’s filthiest beaches, Versova has transformed into a spectacular stretch of sand and impeccable beauty; courtesy of a determined young environmentalist named Afroz Shah.

“I shifted to my new apartment two years back and saw plastic on the beach — it was 5.5 feet high. A man could drown in the plastic,” Shah told CNN. “I said I’m going to come on the field and do something. I have to protect my environment, and it requires ground action.”

While 33-year-old Shah originally began cleaning the beach in 2015 with the help of his 84-year-old neighbor, his plight has since drawn thousands of volunteers to assist in what the United Nations has dubbed the “world’s largest beach clean-up project.”

Politicians, Bollywood celebrities, local residents, slum-dwellers, schoolchildren, strangers, and friends were among the masses who participated in the 85-week beach cleanup which resulted in the removal of staggering 11 million pounds of trash. Reportedly most of the waste is due to the direction of the wind and the fact that the beach is surrounded by slums.

Recently, following one of the weekend events that Shah refers to as “dates with the ocean,” Shah tweeted a photo of the once-again pristine beach. The photo went viral immediately being re-tweeted more than 6,000 times and racking up 13,000 likes.

Volunteers have also helped Shah plant 50 coconut trees towards the end goal of planting 5000 in order to turn it into a “coconut lagoon like it used to be.”

Last year, UNEP, the United Nations Environment Program, awarded Shah with the prestigious Champion of the Earth award for his work in organizing community-led clean-up efforts. His remarkable efforts also have been lauded by the UN Indian minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu and many others.

Shockingly UNEP, estimates that worldwide, people produce nearly 300 million tons of plastic and waste which end up in the world’s oceans. As a result, marine wildlife, ecosystems and economies are severely compromised; ending up costing up to $13 billion per year in environmental damage.

“Shaw is committed to continuing his beach clean-up crusade until people, and their governments around the world change their approach to producing, using and discarding plastic and other products that wash up onto beaches all over the world,” stated UNEP.

The Versova clean-up has proven to be a remarkable example of what can happen when people come together for the greater good.

Whether it be picking up a piece of trash from the beach, remembering to recycle or volunteering with an organization, every one of us can make a difference!

More information and ways you can help are available on the website for Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit organization that works to help protect the ocean from the challenges it constantly faces and donations to help their efforts can be made here.

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"One Person CAN Make A Difference"