For nearly a year now, a group of Mumbai residents have been collecting on Versova beach every weekend to cleanse it of trash. Dubbed the world’s biggest beach clean-up, the project was started last October by Versova resident 33-years-old Afroz Shah and his 84-year-old neighbour Harbanash Mathur. The duo started the clean up by themselves, and eventually, as word spread, more residents joined in. Mathur, sadly died of cancer in March 2016.
The group attracted international attention recently when Lewis Pugh, the United Nations Environment Programme’s Patron of the Oceans, visited Mumbai and joined the volunteers on the beach. Pugh, seen in the video above, tweeted a picture of the mountain of waste that was washed onto the beach around the time of his arrival.
Most of the garbage is comes in from the sea and from the sewage lines that dump the waste into the ocean. Littering by beach goers doesn't help matters.
The 2.5 km stretch of the beach has so far yielded more than 2 lakh kg of garbage. Plastic is considered to be one of the biggest threats to marine life. A study published this year suggests that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.
The one major oceanic island of plastic, known to us as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is said to be twice the size of Texas. It was discovered in 1997 by Charles J Moore, a California-based sea researcher who called it “plastic soup”. Read the account of his discovery here.
The short film below, narrated by German filmmaker Werner Herzog, depicts the journey of a plastic bag to the infamous patch.