New Delhi: After Ganesha leaves for his heavenly abode after 10 days of festivities that start with Ganesh Chaturthi, what remains are the telltale leftovers of the celebrations strewn all over the beaches and water bodies of Mumbai. While the disfigured idols float in water, Debris of idols laid strewn in the water bodies along with other waste. Versova Beach, which is one of the main beaches for Ganpati Visarjan is no different. But, this time, after the Ganpati Visarjan, the picture of Versova beach was completely different. It was spic and span, thanks to some 900 beach warriors who organised a mega cleanup drive a day after the immersion and throught the last 10 days post Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. Versova Beach recently became the cleanest beach in the city after five million kilograms of garbage was removed from it during a mega clean up drive led by Afroz Shah.
Apart from the 36-year-old lawyer from Bombay High Court, Afroz, Bollywood actors like Randeep Hooda and Pooja Bhatt, around 500 school children and residents of Versova, joined the ‘Swachh Versova’ clean up drive.
The outcome, Versova champs removed 80,000 kilos of garbage from the beach and picked up approximately 7,400 Ganpati Idols made from Plaster of Paris which could have ended up polluting the beach all over again and for years, since these are non-biodegradable.
Here are some of the before and after pictures from Versova Beach.
Talking about the mega cleanup drive which went on for 11 days, Afroz Shah said, more than 200 volunteers were guarding Versova Beach every day during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, the aim was simple – to retain the tag of the cleanest beach. Today, was our main day for cleanup, we removed many Ganpati idols from Versova, along with flower waste and other waste which could have ended up polluting Versova in one way or other.
The beach warriors faced many challenges, from incessant rainfall to hide tides, but they braved it all just to make sure that the beach remains clean. On September 6, the cleanup marathon at Versova was from 5am till 10am.
The timings of cleanup activities were different; usually, major cleaning at Versova was done late at nights so as no one can see a ‘sorry’ state of Versova in the morning, added Rohan, a volunteer at the Cleanup.
The 41-year-old Actor, Randeep Hooda who also joined Afroz Shah’s swachh efforts at Versova, took to twitter to praise him, he said, “Thank you @AfrozShah1 for showing us the way to actually be able to do something for our planet, our country, our future #VersovaBeach #Respect.”
— Randeep Hooda (@RandeepHooda) September 6, 2017
Randeep Hooda was not alone; Pooja Bhatt too was actively involved in this mega cleanup for past 11 days.
Bless you Afroz! Will never forget the day you were asked by a very senior official 'Why are you cleaning?'.Your answer-Because you are not! https://t.co/DKyqisPmmL
— Pooja Bhatt (@PoojaB1972) August 30, 2017
Highlighting the fact that this time Mumbaikars were more environmentally conscious and friendly, a volunteer from Afroz Shah’s team added, “As compared to last time, people this time were well informed. Around 80% people at Versova beach were helpful, after their rituals like dipping the Ganesh three times in the water, they used to hand us the idols so that we can take proper care. As volunteers were guarding the beach continuously, they were filtering many things that can lead to water pollution or beach pollution, like we used to restrain people from throwing flower waste or take plastic bottles or other items at the beach.
What Happens To The Waste Which Has Been Collected?
The Ganpati idols which have been collected from the beach will be sent for recycling, and flowers along with other wet waste will be composted into manure which will later be used to make Mumbai Green.
This ‘Swachh Spirit’ of Mumbai also got an applause from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, apart from many other people.
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) August 29, 2017
Wonderful work. But the challenge is to keep it clean. How can we educate people not to litter & to stop others from littering? https://t.co/ewZ8mPwSzi
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 4, 2017
The man behind this mega cleanup Afroz Shah has also been awarded the UN’s top environmental accolade — Champions of the Earth award. Mr Shah has a vision to cleanup all beaches of India, currently; he wants to replicate his Versova effort across all 19 beaches of Mumbai.