It’s hard to believe, but this pristine beach was considered until recently as one of the dirtiest beaches in Mumbai.
Versova’s dramatic transformation from vile to fabulous has gone viral in India, where social media users have praised the role of local volunteers in helping in the colossal effort.
They were led by the young lawyer and environmentalist Afroz Shah and the volunteers collected an amazing 5.3 million kilos of trash and plastic in decomposition in a stretch of 2.5 kilometers of beach during a period of 21 months.
“I moved to my new apartment two years ago and saw plastics on the beach – it was more than 10 meters high. A man could drown in plastic, “Shah told CNN. “I said: I’m going to come to the field and do something, I have to protect my environment and it requires action in the field.”
Shah, 33, started cleaning the beach in 2015 with the help of a neighbor. Over time, he was joined by more than 1,000 volunteers, including local residents of Versova, slum dwellers, politicians, Bollywood celebrities and school children.
Volunteers have also cleaned 52 public toilets on the beach and planted 50 palms. Shah says he wants to plant 5,000 coconut trees there and turn it into a “coconut lagoon like it used to be.”
“What I do is pick up plastic, that’s how I’ve been spending my weekends since 2015 and I love it,” Shah said.