Mumbai: “I have witnessed something surreal …a life changing experience… 80 Olive Ridley turtles walking back to the sea,” exclaimed one of the volunteers who was present on the day Mumbai’s Versova beach created history and saw the return of Olive Ridley sea turtles after 20 years on World Water Day on March 22. Lawyer turned activist Afroz Shah, the man behind world’s biggest beach cleanup drive at Versova, shared the news on social media – congratulatory messages kept pouring in.
From Ministers to celebrities and aam aadmi, most seemed overwhelmed and proud to see the change a cleanliness drive has bought in and acknowledged the hard work of Afroz and his team of volunteers.
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
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change expressed pride at what the lawyer turned activist has achieved, while Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs referred to the return of the Olive Ridley turtles to Versova as an endorsement of the efforts of Afroz and his team.
Feel proud of your work. Keep it up.Congratulations and best wishes????
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) March 25, 2018
Bravo! Return of Olive Ridley turtles to Versova beach is most resounding endorsement of the efforts of @AfrozShah1 & #Swachhagrahis of Mumbai. Heartening to see citizens joining our efforts to turn @SwachhBharatGov into a Jan Andolan. They are real icons of Swachh Bharat. pic.twitter.com/qa2CHee9Cy
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) March 23, 2018
Yuva Sena Chief Aaditya Thackeray, who has actively been propagating plastic ban in Maharashtra, said now that life has returned to the beach, authorities must focus on conservation.
This is a blessing! Nature grows where we learn to live with it, not over it. Congratulations @AfrozShah1 & the team! Well done! The next step should be relevant govt agencies quickly acting with experts to protect these sites and allow conservation. https://t.co/plmymBr2XP
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) March 23, 2018
Priyanka Chaturvedi, National Spokesperson of Congress party also applauded the hard work and commitment of Afroz for spearheading the Versova cleanup and tweeted, “Many congratulations @AfrozShah1 , your hard work and commitment to your cause has helped bring Olive Ridley sea turtles back to Mumbai. More power to you, continue to inspire!”
Many congratulations @AfrozShah1 , your hard work and commitment to your cause has helped bring Olive Ridley sea turtles back to Mumbai. More power to you, continue to inspire! https://t.co/5UI7BObUNq
— Priyanka Chaturvedi???????? (@priyankac19) March 23, 2018
Former Maharashtra Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s son and Latur Zilla Parishad member, Congress’s Dhiraj Deshmukh said, “One man worked tirelessly to clean Versova Beach and today Oliver Ridley Turtles are back.”
— Dhiraj V Deshmukh (@MeDeshmukh) March 22, 2018
United Nations Environment Project head Erik Solheim, who had participated in the beach cleanup drive for a day in October 2017, summed up the development and said, “Great news Afroz Shah. The cleaner our beaches, the more life will thrive!”
— Erik Solheim (@ErikSolheim) March 23, 2018
Recently appointed as the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador For India, Dia Mirza has also been a supporter of the Versova clean-up initiative, she added that she was grateful to Afroz and his volunteers for achieving this feet.
What wonderful news I have come back to @AfrozShah1!!! This is AMAZING!!! So so grateful to you and all your volunteers ???????????? #WildForLife #BeatPollution #BeatPlasticPollution #CleanSeas #OliveRidleyTurtles https://t.co/803XGV4z4u
— Dia Mirza (@deespeak) March 22, 2018
Actors Randeep Hooda and Jacky Bhagnani who have also been part of the cleanup drive expressed their joy at this pleasant surprise at Versova.
Actors Saurabh Shukla and Karanvir Bohra also expressed their joy at what the Versova cleanup drive team has achieved.
Fantastic ???? https://t.co/xwFsnne3d6
— saurabh shukla (@saurabhshukla_s) March 22, 2018
This is unbelievable…. beautiful. Good bless u dear https://t.co/35VGKhxPPC
— Karenvir Bohra (@KVBohra) March 22, 2018
Here’s how some of the other netizens reacted to the news of the comeback of sea turtles after 20 years.
— Miguel Booth ???? (@mboothp) March 23, 2018
Its such a proud moment for us. https://t.co/fN9ext40To
— Arnav Chawla (@Arnavchawla1234) March 24, 2018
Showed this to my friend & she was almst in tears.. such is the power of this news, sign of true acknwldgmnt & encourgmnt for all efforts made by @AfrozShah1 & us, his team.. words fail to describe this feeling.. glad we could return your home to you, Turtles, Mumbai welcmes you https://t.co/F8QbKApwF0
— Nupur Agarwal (@AgarwalNupur10) March 22, 2018
— Pritesh Shah (@priteshshah_) March 22, 2018
— Shamsi Abbas (@Abbasriz) March 22, 2018
Versova beach Mumbai, home to millions of tons of plastic before the cleaning drive, guess who makes a comeback to appreciate the change. The Olive Ridley sea turtle. #20years #turtles #plasticpollution #coastal #wildlife https://t.co/ywTfkqryFO
— Hemal????Naik (@hmnaik) March 23, 2018
— Devyani Eva (@EvaMirana) March 23, 2018
Awesome day for #Mumbai.
Thanks to the cleaning efforts of Afroz Shah and his team Mumbai got back Olive Ridley Sea Turtle after 20 years.
Its an Historic moment
Constant cleaning helps marine species.
— Dr.Hemant Mittal (@drhemant_mittal) March 22, 2018
@AfrozShah1.. you are an example that sustaining despite all odds only gives you best results.. This marks a day in history..
Hats off to you.. https://t.co/4ootfqhdz2
— Ashwinii Chaummal (@aashuomindia) March 24, 2018
The drive that was started in 2015 it presently in its 127th week and so far more than 1,200 have successfully managed to remove 9 million tonnes of garbage from the Versova beach.