109 weeks and 9 M kg of trash later, Versova Beach saviour Afroz Shah calls it quits
Although it had acquired the reputation of being Mumbai's dirtiest, Versova Beach has, over the years, cleaned up its act, so to speak. The beach, located in the north-western part of the city, was covered in waste until the locals decided to take matters into their own hands. This cleanliness effort was carried out with the help of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which is one of India’s richest civic bodies.
The effort was spearheaded by 33-year-old Afroz Shah, a lawyer at the Bombay High Court. When Afroz was not busy with his work, he organised volunteer camps for people who wanted to help clean up the beach.
While he spent close to 109 weeks on the effort, Afroz has finally reached saturation point. In his Twitter announcement, he has cited "non-clearance of picked up garbage" and "abuse by goons" as his reasons for abandoning the two-year effort.
In an interview with The Logical Indian, Afroz said,
"I have failed. I am sorry to have let people down but I have failed. It is very difficult to scavenge waste from the beach. We have collected nine million kg of waste. We all struggled, the infrastructure was there, but if some people are not willing to clean our oceans then there is no way out."
When Versova corporator Yogiraj Dabhadkar and MLA Bharti Lavhekar were approached by Mumbai Mirror, the latter said,
"I am scheduled to meet the BMC officials with Afroz Shah on Monday. We will ensure the trash is removed immediately. I'm positive the beach clean-up will continue. We are aware that people were upset over the garbage collection issue. I will meet the residents to find out what the problem is."