On September 10, 2017, Malhar, a resident of Dadar, along with his friends, marched up to Mumbai’s Dadar beach to collect the garbage thrown by the visitors. What started as a weekend activity gradually turned into a full-fledged cleanup movement engaging over 20,000 Mumbaikars.
Malhar is the founder of ‘Beach Please,’ an initiative started to remove trash from Dadar beach in Mumbai through weekly cleanup drives.
Read more about Beach Please here: For These Mumbai Students, Cleaning Beaches is The Perfect School Reunion!
I have lived in the city for two decades. I have realised that the power to make a city better or worse lies with us. We cannot keep blaming the government authorities. It was during the Ganesh Visarjan when I saw how people are destroying the water bodies without giving any thought. I wanted to bring a change and that is how Beach Please was born, the 21-year-old tells The Better India (TBI).
Malhar Kalambe has vowed to work harder, and his intentions towards making Mumbai a cleaner place have only strengthened, he tells TBI, in an exclusive interview.
While this might be a huge commitment for most of us, for Malhar, it is a mission that is difficult but possible. The promise to work harder comes after he received the V-Award, an initiative by the United Nations Volunteers India. The award, supported by UNICEF, aims to celebrate young people, who are making the world a better place for all through their acts of volunteerism every day and everywhere.
It has been 87 weeks since the cleanup drive began and so far, close to 1000 tonnes of waste like plastic, stale food and religious offerings have been cleared from the beach.
Seeing his efforts, commitment and passion for an environmental cause, the UN felicitated him in Delhi on the International Volunteer Day (December 5, 2018) at a three-day event hosted at the UN Headquarters.
“This is the first award I have ever received, so it is very special for me. This award is a reminder that there is a lot to be done, and my cause is not limited to a beach. I am humbled and overjoyed to get recognition from such a prestigious organisation,” he says.
Along with giving him the award, the UN authorities also conducted a workshop on ways to expand the movement and involve more people.
“They taught us about how to retain volunteers, and at the same time, engage new people. It is, by far, my biggest challenge. The same volunteers do not come every weekend. So, now my team and I have started to approach different colleges and corporates every week,” adds Malhar.
During the cleanup drives, Malhar realised that cleaning just the Dadar beach is not enough as the original source of waste in the water is Mithi river, “The 18-km river is one of the most polluted rivers in Mumbai. 70 per cent of the river has settlements that dump waste directly into the river. The river is connected to the beach and all the refuse gets deposited in the beach.”
Just a week before Malhar received the award, he launched his second mission of cleaning the Mithi river near the Mahim causeway. He hopes to engage the youth in the river cleanup.
Malhar and the volunteers dedicate around two hours every Saturday and Sunday to clean the Dadar beach and Mithi river respectively.
Around 40 volunteers turn up for the river cleanup against the expectation of 100. It is a huge river, and thus needs more volunteers. “I request Mumbaikars to come forward and help make our water bodies waste-free,” says Malhar.
Malhar is one of the many beach crusaders that have come up in the last couple of years in the sprawling city of Mumbai. With efforts from citizens like Afroz Shah, Chinu Kwatra and Malhar, it looks like the island city is slowly moving towards a safe and healthy environment.
If you wish to join Malhar’s mission and help him make Mumbai cleaner, you can call him at +91 91676 60403.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)