The inspirational story of Afroz Shah, who cleaned up Versova beach, has encouraged citizens across India to take up the responsibility of their surroundings and contribute towards protecting the environment. One such instance is the initiative of the residents of Kihim Beach and Kamat Village who took up the task of clearing the garbage, consisting mainly of plastic and thermocole, along the Kihim beach. Sumaira Abdulali, environmental activist and founder member of Awaaz Foundation, has stacked the mixed garbage at her family’s private property in Kihim because of the non-existent garbage disposal system in Alibag district of Maharashtra. Ms Abdulali has filed a petition urging the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to intervene to fast-track the redressal process.
Kihim Beach, a well-known tourist destination in Alibag area, consists of several beaches which often suffer from oil spills, accumulated garbage from decades and chemical pollution. In spite of being widely advertised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), this beautiful beach has apparently no arrangements to clean it or dispose of the garbage. Visitors from Mumbai and local residents have littered the place with large quantities of garbage. The district administration states that it “cannot plan” for large quantities of garbage thus created. In fact, it does not have a system in place for regular household garbage collection too. Most of the gram panchayats too do not have a garbage disposal system.
After enquiring with the Alibag district administration, Ms Abdulali gathered that there was no official garbage disposal policy or site in Alibag. Household garbage is either burnt or dumped along the roadsides. In addition, residents of Alibag city dump construction waste and other non-inflammable material in the city centre.
Alibag, a fast developing area close to Mumbai, suffers from similar development problems as Mumbai in the early stages. The health hazards of garbage-choked beaches and lack of scientific garbage disposal facilities are a major cause of worry in both the cities. However the magnitude of health hazards is much higher in Mumbai. Necessary measures have to be taken to ensure that Alibag does not repeat the mistakes of Mumbai.
Ms Abdulali has requested the Chief Minister to intervene and help formulate a long term action plan for cleaning up the beach.