While Afroz Shah, the poster boy of Versova beach clean-up broke under pressure, and temporarily discontinued work with his volunteers this weekend, all hope is not lost.
Shah made headlines, after shedding light on apparent administrative lethargy and the abuses that his volunteers received. Although Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis promised to aid him in the matter, the Bombay High Court lawyer was adamant that the cleanup would only resume, after he saw a change on the ground and his list of demands were met.
But Mumbaikars won’t stop. Citizen groups who have been part of the Versova beach clean-up for years have joined hands to keep the spirit going.
These include one group under the leadership of known environmentalist Rishi Agarwal, who has had a long-standing association with the Versova beach clean-up from 2003 to 2006 under the Save Andheri-Versova Environment Forum and another group, Bombay 61.
According to a Mumbai Mirror report, Rishi Agarwal, an expert in waste management, also submitted a formal proposal to BMC, suggesting the formation of a long-term team of citizens, civic body officials, and other stakeholders, to join hands and maintain cleanliness in Mumbai’s water bodies.
‘Such an endeavour will not be possible till garbage continues to be dumped into the sea from the nullahs,’ Agarwal said in his letter to the BMC chief, reported the publication.
The formation of this group would help monitor and execute measures to prevent the waste from slums and areas surrounding water bodies, from flowing into nullahs, making its way to the creeks and rivers and eventually into the sea and onto the beaches.
A similar body consisting of residents, civic body, non-profit groups, and rag pickers formed for Juhu beach could also serve as an example.
While we salute Afroz Shah’s vision and the efforts, it is essential to reiterate that cleaning our water bodies and beaches is not one man’s duty. With more and more citizens joining hands and working collectively, it is nice to see Mumbai move one step ahead in reclaiming its beaches!