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How Removal Of 7.4 Million Kilograms Of Garbage Made Versova The Cleanest Beach Of Mumbai

A cleanup drive that started two years ago as a personal initiative of Afroz Shah and his neighbour, Harbansh Mathur, soon became the world's biggest and longest cleanup drive. It has successfully completed 100 weeks of continuous cleanup, with the cleaning of 7.4 million kilos of garbage. Inspired by the efforts of these two individuals, residents, school students, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation labourers, Bollywood celebrities and UN officials also joined hands and supported them. Here are some pictures of how Versova turned into the cleanest beach of Mumbai.

It is the view from the window of their homes every morning that pushed 36-year-old Afroz Shah, a lawyer from Mumbai and his neighbour, Harbansh Mathur, to do something about the garbage covering the Versova beach as far as eye could see.

Soon, Versova cleanup drive started catching attention and despite being busy with their personal and professional life, Mumbaikars from all walks of life started joining in. With every cleanup week organised on Saturday, one could see more and more people joining in and doing their bit.

Versova cleanup drive hit its first milestone in August last year, when over 500 residents, Bollywood celebrities, BMC labourers and UN officials, removed over 2.84 lakh kilograms of trash manually from the 2.5-km long beach.

Versova beach also saw Bollywood Actors like Randeep Hooda and Politicans joining and supporting Versova cleanup.

Afroz Shah's efforts towards cleaning Mumbai's dirtiest Versova beach were also acknowledged by PM Narendra Modi during his Mann Ki Baat address to the nation on All India Radio.

It is in October last year that Versova weekly cleanups achieved another milestone - longest continuous weekly cleanups done by around 1500 volunteers that led to the removal of approximately 3 million tonnes of trash.

During Mumbai's biggest festival - Ganesh Chaturthi, Afroz Shah guarded Versova along with 200 volunteers every day and night. Post Ganpati immersion, a mega-cleanathon marking 99 week cleanup at Versova was organised. With the help of 900 people approximately 80,000 kilos of waste and 7,400 Ganesh Idols were removed from the beach.

Instead of dumping the waste at some other place to create another heap of garbage, trash collected during clean up drive is directly dumped into tractors and sent to a recycling house in Mumbai. Like the waste collected during Ganpati immersion, Ganpati idols were sent for recycling while flowers and other wet waste were being composed into manure.

Inspired by the efforts, Bollywood actor and Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan campaign ambassador, Amitabh Bachchan, also took part in the cleanup drive and later gifted two machines that will help in the cleanup activities at the beach.

International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 16 saw more than 3000 volunteers, including 1800 school students come together to celebrate 100 week landmark of the world's biggest and longest beach cleanup at Versova beach.

By 100th week, what started off as a two-person cleanup drive was transformed into a people's movement. As of now, 7.4 million kilos of trash have been removed. Versova beach cleanup drive is a testimony of what people power can achieve. All it takes is someone to take that initiative.

Afroz Shah says, "We have two choices, either we can live a life of convenience or we live in a healthy planet." The before and after picture of Versova beach shows that we have to work hard to earn a clean environment.

The end result of all the effort of 100 weeks - A clean and picture perfect image of Versova beach.

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