Mumbai: UN Environment Champion of the Earth Afroz Shah, who initiated and has continued to cleanup the Versova beach here without break for more than two years, was forced to suspend the world’s largest beach cleanup on (Sunday 19 November, 2017) after Volunteers were heckled and abused by goons for picking up garbage, and due to administrative lethargy, non clearance of picked up garbage and abuses they were facing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the beach cleanup
A few days ago, you must have heard that the Versova beach in Mumbai, which was infamous for its filth has now transformed into a a clean and beautiful beach. People toiled for about 80-90 weeks, unceasingly and turned Versova beach around by extracting thousand of tonnes of waste materials and today Versova beach is clean and beautiful. This campaign was owned by Versova Residence volunteer or VRV. A gentleman called Afroz Shah started this mission from October, 2015 whole heartedly with all his might, slowly people started joining his bandwagon and turned into a people’s movement. For this outstanding work, United Nations Environment Programme or UNEP awarded ‘Champion of the Earth’ Award to Sh. Afroz Shah, and thus he has become the first Indian to achieve this distinction. I congratulate Sh. Afroz Shah, and felicitate this people’s movement. The manner in which Sh. Afroz Shah gathered the people of the area into a people’s collective and gave it the shape of a People’s movement in itself an inspiring example. – Prime Minister Narendra Modi (“Man ki Baat”, 28 May, 2017)
Beginning the cleanup for the 109th week on Saturday, Shah had posted on his facebook page: “Week 109 cleanup begins .
The beach is getting cleaner and cleaner .The ocean is breathing better and better. Spending few hours with nature helps to connect with nature … Few tiny steps and a clean ocean and a clean environment. Let’s do our bit every week to protect our ocean and our Environment..”
Later in a post on fb, the social media platform, a highly dejected Shah wrote on Sunday: “We tried our best and I failed. I have let you down my ocean and my country…Forgive me my ocean and my country.”
Shah, a lawyer by profession, has been raising awareness about the need to fight pollution through his actions in India and around the world. After the cleanup was suspended on Sunday, Shah has been bombarded with solidarity messages.
How people have reacted
Afroz Shah you are an inspiration to the whole world, you have faced and fought many worst situations and this is one such situation, you cannot let the goons win.
My son and I have seen you growing from strength to strength every week and we are really proud of what you have achieved but please don’t let these goons let your spirit down.
And you can never fail…. – Anand Mavani
You should inform ministers and PMO . This is just another example of how rotten our system has become . The system has become garbage . It will take time to be cleaned.- Subhadip Mukherjee
Afroz, you have not failed and you cannot stop. This has to reach the ears of our PM Modiji and then see how the administration supports you. Please, everyone should send appeals to all the higher authorities and this goonda gardi should be stopped – Naushad Keshwani
Afroz Shah. What happened? This is not the end. You have worked too hard to end your program this way. Please do not give up. You have supporters all over the world. Elizabeth Beaumont from Australia,Eric Edward from California, Bonnie Monteleone from North Carolina, me from South Carolina, David Church from England, June J Jordan from SC, Eric Solheim from United Nations, April Peebler and Heirs to Our Ocean from CA, Jim Ries and One More Generation from Georgia and hundreds of others. You are an inspiration for all people. The bullies must be defeated. Wishing you lots of luck and sending you positive vibes from around the world. – Goffinet McLaren
What has happened Afoz?Can your friends around the world do anything to help? Write to anyone? Raise awareness? And BTW it is not you who has failed. This is a mountain that we all need to climb, and you are ahead of us. – Christine Spreiter
You are doing your very best. You have not let the ocean or yourself down . You are winning . It takes enormous efforts. I respect your work. – Elizabeth Beaumont
What you did its really spechless..& God knows that one day definitely you & we will succeed to save our Earth Mother.Because its not a duty its a responsibility – Saumya Sarin
Shame on politicans and bureaucrat …… I stand with you bro – Ashivishnu Pandey
Shocking 😕 and sad – David Stevenson
Can’t believe someone actually wants pollution and filth – Avinash Bhatt
What about local police and MLA. Chief Minister should intervene and the politician and goons be identified and punished. Please don’t give up! the world is with you Afroz.
You are really inspiration for others…. don’t loose hope….. Let’s restart with new strategy – Ashivishnu Pandey
This is ridiculous. Our crab system at work? – Rabin Ghosh
OMG.. that is so sad n shocking…how could they stop the good work – Sangeeta Gomes Tripathy
You are a fighter sir….You are a inspiration for every human being. Nature….This beautiful earth… this Ocean…. Looking for you.. they have just hope that you will protect them. And you can never fail.I don’t expect anything from this corrupt system. You are a our leader and we are always with you. We ll fight back. I know how painfull it is. -Amit Bhardwaj