Afroz Shah, who spearheaded the largest beach clean-up drive in Mumbai, suspended the campaign on Sunday after the goons allegedly abused and heckled the volunteers and the concerned authority, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), was not picking up the garbage collected at the site.
Shah, a Mumbai-based lawyer, along with volunteers have been cleaning the Mumbai’s Versova Beach for 109 weeks since October 2015 before he gave up.
The movement came to a halt on October 19 after Afroz made an announcement on Twitter. In his tweet, he complained of abuse by goons for picking up garbage and also blamed the administration for not clearing the picked up garbage on the beach.
Feeling sorry for the ocean and his country, Afroz has announced the suspension by tweeting this:
Week 109 cleanup.Volunteers abused by goons for picking up garbage.Administrative lethargy,non clearance of picked up garbage and abuses is what we are https://t.co/ydEzp638C6 largest beach cleanup is suspended.Tried my best and I failed.Forgive me my ocean and my country. pic.twitter.com/XdFJMfZNeV
— Afroz Shah (@AfrozShah1) November 19, 2017
So what led Afroz Shah to suspend the movement?
According to a leading online portal, Afroz Shah reportedly felt sorry for what has happened to his team. He said that his team was at loggerheads with the authorities for almost 6 weeks and that there are certain people who would sit on the beach and drink and cause a ruckus, who would litter the beach and would hurl abuses when somebody would try to clean it up. The crusader also says the women workers have been chased with sticks. All these made him give up on his two-year-old campaign.
However, after the ‘Champions of the Earth’ Award winner was forced to suspend the clean-up of the beach, he has found support from Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri.
In a tweet on Tuesday, the minister said he discussed the matter with the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Deeply concerned about attack on @AfrozShah1 & his volunteers by criminal elements. Took this up with @CMOMaharashtra Was assured that instructions had already been issued to municipal & @MumbaiPolice authorities to give all help.This service to the nation must go on. pic.twitter.com/HHSrFfK5lK
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) November 21, 2017
Meanwhile, Shah approached the Versova police on Tuesday and said that they will now look into the matter. Shah also reportedly said that the MCGM staff have now begun clearing the garbage after local MLA Bharti Lavhekar and corporator Yogiraj Dabhadkar set them a three-day deadline on Monday. He also said that if, in the coming days, things fall into place they will resume their activity, but said if they are to get back to it then everybody must do their bit including the residents, volunteers and the corporation.
The Versova Beach clean-up drive, which is carried out every Sunday, was one of the largest citizen initiatives the world has ever witnessed.
Afroz Shah’s effort to clean up the beach led the United Nations to recognize him with the ‘Champions of the Earth’ award. His team has cleared 9 million kgs of garbage off the Versova beach. They not only clean the beach but also help in cleaning toilets for people living in slums. They educate them and make them more aware of sanitation too.
Afroz Shah and his team has done so much and, therefore, we as citizens urge Shah not to give up on the initiative.