‘Largest beach clean-up drive’ celebrates a year, collects 1.12L kg trash

Badri Chatterjee, Mumbai: Versova residents marked their first anniversary of weekend beach clean-ups on

Sunday by collecting 1.12 lakh kilograms of plastic waste with support from head of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Erik Solheim, who labelled the event as the largest beach clean-up in history.
Thousands of children, students, college-goers and officials from various private companies gathered at the northern end of Versova Beach and cleared trash from a kilometre-long stretch (from the jetty area up to Jeet Nagar, Versova village). The drive also saw 30 civic body workers, 50 policemen and some celebrities taking time out to clean the beach.
Over 52 weeks, the Versova residents’ volunteers (VRV) collected a total of 3.11 million kgs (over 31 lakh kg) of plastic, glass and other beach trash, which is nearly one-third of the daily garbage generated in Mumbai. Solheim told HT that he was pleased to see the huge turnout during the clean-up drive. “On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, it is encouraging for me to be part of the largest beach clean-up movement in history,” he said adding that it was worrisome to see that the beach received fresh piles of plastic wash ashore every day. “The government needs to regulate the use of plastic and there is an immediate need to give value to it by collecting and recycling it before it gets buried under the sand.”
Solheim added that the beach clean-up was a strong message to political leaders to act now against global beach pollution. “Apart from just collecting garbage from the shoreline, collection needs to happen at source. The government needs to educate people and provide techniques for recycling. Therefore, people living in areas where beach pollution is high can collect plastic, recycle it and sell it,” he said.
On Sunday, the clean-up area was divided into four zones. While three were allotted to locals, the zone closer to the jetty was manned by civic workers. Each zone had one excavator machine and by the end of the drive, 28 tractors carried 4,000 kg garbage each to the city’s dumping grounds.VRV members said they were overwhelmed by the response from citizens. “We had 1,300 people who signed up online for Sunday’s drive. If the same can be replicated at every beach, citizens will be able to resolve the beach pollution crisis our city is facing,” said Afroz Shah, founder, VRV.
A similar drive at Juhu beach on Sunday morning had hundreds joining in and close to a lakh kg of garbage was collected and sent to city dumping grounds there too.
‘Curb rising Celsius, go green’
Ahead of India’s approval for ratifying the Paris climate change agreement at United Nations on Sunday, Erik Solheim, executive director, UNEP said it would boost the impetus for a global resolution towards reducing carbon emissions, thereby global warming.
“The signing was enormously important for the global environment as China, United States, Europe and India — the four major economic areas of the world — have now signed the agreement,” said Solheim. “This will change the global scenario when it comes to climate change. The countries need to now look into environmental opportunities by providing new green jobs, go in for renewable sources of energy, such as solar, and use smart technology for agriculture that does not affect the climate.”
In an attempt to curb the rising global temperatures that is leading to a shift in rainfall patterns, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, the Paris climate change agreement requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degree Celsius. The agreement will come into force when 55 countries contributing to over 50% of global emissions ratify the deal. So far, countries that have ratified the agreement account for 51.89% of global emissions, according to the Union environment ministry.