New Delhi: After halting the Versova Beach cleanup after 109 weeks, Afroz Shah resumed the drive finally on Saturday. A day after, on Sunday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Yuva Sena president Aditya Thackeray joined the proceedings along with lawyer Afroz Shah who spearheaded the movement, which is now in its 111th week. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis lauded Afroz and his entire team for their contribution towards the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and said that the state government fully supports his initiative and would soon prepare a policy for marine and coastal cleanliness and conservation.
#Versova beach cleaning :
CM @Dev_Fadnavis joins beach cleaning initiative with @AfrozShah1 and his team.
CM congratulates this entire team for relentlessly contributing towards @SwachhBharat Abhiyan!
CM interacted with school children.@AUThackeray was present too. pic.twitter.com/JBDHjDtXuy
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) December 3, 2017
Afroz Shah has been working on a policy for marine and coastal cleanliness and conservation. He will submit a draft policy to the state government soon and then after reviewing it the government will finalise the beach cleaning policy, added Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The Chief Minister also interacted with hundreds of school children who participated in the drive at Versova on Sunday.
Aaditya Thackeray who was also present at the cleanup said,
Visited @AfrozShah1 & his team today. We both kept our promises. Mine to support him wholeheartedly. His promise to me: to not give up.
Visited @AfrozShah1 & his team today. We both kept our promises. Mine to support him wholeheartedly. His promise to me: to not give up. Interacted with locals, school kids and promised to come back again. Hon’ble @CMOMaharashtra & the Mayor @iamvmahadeshwar ji were present too. pic.twitter.com/zSY2vubawz
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) December 3, 2017
Overjoyed with the support from the politicians and people, Afroz Shah added,
It is a sheer joy to see the enthusiasm of students, elected representatives, Citizens, Kids to bond and connect with nature / ocean.
He further said,
I am happy to resume the cleanup, I will continue to work towards changing the mindset of people towards littering. And, this is my way of making a change. Because, once we bond with nature and have sense of belonging, mindset changes will take place.
Afroz Shah had suspended his beach clean-up after 109 weeks on November 21 because he and his fellow volunteers were allegedly heckled and abused by goons during their regular cleanup drives at Versova and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was refusing to collect the garbage cleaned up by the volunteers. After Afroz Shah announced his decision to suspend the drive, support poured in from all quarters. During that time too, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met Afroz Shah and assured him all the support from Government. He immediately asked Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Mumbai police to assist Afroz in his Swachh initiative, result on last few weekends the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was at the beach cleaning up the garbage.
Since October 2015, Afroz and his volunteers have cleared approximately 9 million kilograms of trash from the Versova beach and for this he has also been awarded the UN’s top environmental accolade — Champions of the Earth award.