The clean-up drive on Mumbai's Versova Beach was started two years ago by Afroz Shah.
For 33-year-old Afroz Shah, Saturday was a landmark day as his effort to start a movement reached an important milestone. The Versova beach clean-up effort crossed its 100th week with close to a thousand volunteers spending two hours removing plastic from the beach.
What started off as an inspirational clean-up drive initiated by two Mumbaikars two years ago, has now become a movement with 12,000 citizens taking part in an environmental cause. Saturday saw diplomats, politicians, students and local residents come together for what Mr Shah, a lawyer, calls "date with the ocean".
Jennifer Larson, Deputy Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Mumbai spent two hours with Tor A Dahlstrom, Deputy Head of Mission at the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Mumbai. Ms Larson told NDTV, "The message would be the same all over the world... recycle what you can, reuse things that you can."
The clean-up drive has transformed Mumbai's Versova Beach.
Bollywood also marked its presence on Saturday with actor Randeep Hooda joining the clean-up effort. "We have ruined the marine life. People like us, who eat fish, are consuming polluted fish because of which it's affecting us directly. Such a big portion of this world is the sea and if you can't keep the seas clean, how you can keep this planet healthy?" he asked. Earlier actor and director Pooja Bhatt has also cleaned the beach as part of the drive and Amitabh Bachchan has presented an excavator and a tractor for future clean-ups across the city.
The effort which has been praised by PM Modi himself is now setting an example for the world to follow. Naysan Sabha from the United Nations Environment Programme told NDTV, "This kind of local, tangible action when replicated, when multiplied across the beaches of India, across the beaches of Asia and the Pacific, across the world, then we can actually tangibly have a solution to the global marine pollution challenge."
But as citizens continue to dump plastic, the effort will have to be a sustained programme. Mr Shah's only plea is more people should take it up as he continues to clean. On Saturday, in spite of suffering from dengue, he turned up at the beach to clean it. "This will continue. I tell people as there is a craving to have food every day, there is a craving in me to keep our oceans free of plastic and this craving will continue for life."
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