Versova Beach, was one of the most polluted beaches and was a state of ruin a few years back. People would not even dare to walk along this stretch, but Afroz Shah, a Mumbai-based lawyer’s ceaseless efforts helped convert this beach into a family-friendly zone. He has breathed in it a new life .

34-year-old Afroz when reached the beach, stared out in disbelief at the vast blanket of rotting litter that had grown shin-deep in places covering every inch of sand, turning the once-pristine coastline into a dumping ground . Rather than waiting for the government or an NGO to initiate projects to clear the litter from the sea face, Shah himself took matter into his hands and didn’t wait for government funds instead pooled his own money into the initiative. Unalarmed by the onerous scale of the task and , the implausible twain -he himself and his 84 year old neighbour Harbanash Mathur (who passed away in 2016) knuckle downed and went to the beach and began picking up trash. The litter including plastic bags, cement sacks, glass bottles, pieces of clothing, and shoes among others that covered the entire 2.5 km stretch. Thus started what has since mushroomed into the world’s largest ever beach clean-up.

Soon, many people from his neighbourhood joined him, followed by slum-dwellers, Bollywood stars, school students and politicians. The movement has resulted in the volunteers segregating over more than 4.5 million tons of garbage so far.

One of the dirtiest beaches in the city almost akin to an open wasteland or toilet, is today almost litter-free,. Now, the beach is back to its original immaculate glory.

Three years into the clean-up drive, the results became quite prominent. Not only were the heaps of trash nowhere to be seen, but, Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings were also noticed in the beach. These turtles were sighted after 20 years, hinting that the beach was creating an environment conducive for the turtles.

The ‘miraculous’, clean-up ‘ project, which was spearheaded by Shah, grew over the course of time, catching the eyes of government authorities, celebrities, and the United Nations

Shah's love, respect and bonding with nature earned him the UN’s highest award for environment protection in 2016 - the “Champion of the Earth.” making him the first Indian to achieve the award.

Shah’s effort is being considered the world biggest clean up by the UNEP.

The recipient said he will not rest until people realise the damage non-biodegradable products like plastic cause to marine life and the environment overall. According to him, neither the Earth nor the Ocean can digest plastic and working towards a world free of plastic pollution will go a long way in curbing its toxic impact on humans, animals, and the environment

After Versova Beach, Afroz Shah is now on a "Mission" to clean Mumbai’s Mithi River.

The Versova Cleanup Then Vs Now Proves One Man’s Efforts Can Go A Long Way For Our Environment

We have to ally against the foes of the living world.

MORAL- Caring nature must be our everyday affair.



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