March 7, 2018 2:16:36 am
After taking up the cleaning of the Versova beach, lawyer and activist Afroz Shah will now be cleaning the mangrove patches in the city. The state mangrove cell has joined hands with the ‘Champions of the Earth’ Award winner to clear plastic and other waste from these areas. “We have tied up with Afroz Shah and his team to clean all the mangrove patches in the city. This will not only help in clearing the area but also in increasing awareness about the importance of the mangroves and the damage plastic waste is causing them. If we work together it will be the beginning of a major movement,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.
In a unique initiative Shah will be providing the equipment and manpower for the cleaning efforts, while the cell will help coordinate with the municipal corporation. “A model like this is actually needed across the country. Participative democracy is not only about giving your vote. The citizens need to engage with the government through the year. Only a collaboration between the people and the government will help the environment,” said Shah.
While youth from the local slums will be roped in, for the machinery Shah will be making the excavator and the tractor gifted by actor Amitabh Bachchan available for the cleaning activity. “We have some volunteers from the Sagar Kutir slum who do not have jobs. They have worked with us for 124 weeks and are well-trained. They are also familiar with the mangrove area. They can work on cleaning the mangroves in groups of two during the week,” said Shah.
While the mangrove cell is already undertaking a clean-up drive of the mangroves in different parts of the city, this initiative will also cater to the floating debris in the creek. As the solid waste flows untreated in the creek, a huge amount of plastic waste including footwear and milk packets are found floating in the water and on the mangroves. “We will have to clean the creek as well as the waste that goes into the mangroves and chokes their roots. The tidal flow also gets affected. Cleaning them will greatly improve the general aesthetic of the mangroves,” said Vasudevan.
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Through their clean-up drive, started on January 1, the cell has collected 500 tonnes of waste. Meanwhile, Shah has also cleared 13 million kilos of waste from the Versova beach in the last 124 weeks.
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