Mumbai: If indiscriminate human actions are ruining life on planet, then corrective actions like the world’s longest beach cleanup in Versova, Mumbai, are also giving hope of recovery. Nature had a surprise in store and it coincided with the World Water Day. On March 22 as the volunteers at the Versova beach were engaged in their cleanup drive, they spotted hatchling of a specie and notified the state forest department. The officials confirmed that the hatchlings were Olive Ridley turtles and that they have returned here after 20 years. Lawyer turned beach cleanup activist, Afroz Shah, who has been spearheading the Versova cleanup for a record 127 weeks, shared the news on social media,
Fantastic news for Mumbai. We got back Olive Ridley Sea Turtle after 20 years. Historic moment nested and hatched at our beach. We facilitate their journey to ocean. Constant cleaning helps marine species. Marine conservation centre needed at Versova beach.
Week 127 .
Fantastic news for Mumbai .
We got back Olive Ridley Sea Turtle after 20 years. Historic moment
Nested and Hatched at our beach. We facilitate their journey to ocean.
Constant cleaning helps marine species.
— Afroz Shah (@AfrozShah1) March 22, 2018
He further added, “Olive Ridley sea turtles are extremely precious species and if they have returned to the beach it is an indication that our eco-system has regenerated. Versova beach, which was once filthy and full of dirt, has now been cleaned and thus the mammals also want to come.”
Afroz had initiated the mega Verosva cleanup drive in October 2015. So far he and his team of 1200 volunteers have cleaned up over 9 million tonnes of garbage from the beach, making it one of the biggest beach cleanup exercises in the world.
The 80 turtles were sent back to the Arabian Sea late on Thursday by the forest officials. A volunteer, who was present at the Versova beach told PTI,
I have witnessed something surreal …a life changing experience… 80 Olive Ridley turtles walking back to the sea.
This is a big moment in the 127 week timeline of the Versova beach cleanup. After all the recognition and the accolades that the cleanup drive and the man behind it all – Afroz Shah have got, the return of the Olive Ridleys is nature’s way of acknowledging this herculean effort and gives hope for the future. In his reaction to this news Head of United Nations Environment Programme, Erik Solheim sums it up well, “The cleaner our beaches, the more life will thrive!”