Two years ago, it was a pain to put your foot on Mahim Beach amid its layers of litter, let alone taking strolls. So, imagine the surprise, and a sense of accomplishment, of the area's residents that the first-ever football tournament is going to be held there this Sunday.
And it definitely hasn't been smooth sailing, as this has become possible thanks to the hard work a group of residents put in to bring the sandy stretch to its current state of cleanliness.
It's taken members of the Mahim ALM (above) and other residents over two years of toil to free Mahim Beach of plastic, garbage and other filth, including drug addicts
A different ball game
These members of the area's Advanced Local Management (ALM) battled plastic, garbage and drug addicts to spruce up the beach, making it worthy to host the tournament, which will be played in the futsal fashion — two sides with five players each — among local Mahim teams on Sunday morning; if the tide changes course, the timing will be shifted to early evening.
"By hosting this tournament, we want to spread the word that the beach is now clean, but the crucial point is to keep it that way," said Faroque Dala, a resident who has played an active role in the clean-up. "The responsibility has always been ours; we call the contractor everyday and ensure that the beach is cleaned."
As of now, eight teams from the neighbourhood have registered for the tournament, but ALM members are confident that more will register before Sunday.
The Mahim Beach Committee, which is a mix of the area's residents and municipal corporation officials, is organising the tournament.
Rags to riches
ALM chairman, Dargah Street, Anwar Khan said, "If you would have seen the beach earlier, there was no place to even step foot anywhere on the sand; it was that dirty."
"We keep an eye out for any littering or anti-social activity, and call our contractor for a clean-up everyday," he added, saying that the members and residents have kept at it for more than a decade now.
The residents have formed WhatsApp groups to share and spread information, as well as inform municipal authorities. Residents also mentioned how pelicans were seen on the beach after decades as a result of it being clean.
"People who swam in the waters here used to get itchy skin because of the oil and pollutants in it," said Dala. "We recently sent samples of the water to a lab for testing to check what impurities are in it and how they can be removed."
The ALM is also playing a pivotal role in coordinating with the local police in keeping the beach free of drug addicts, especially in and around the Fort area.
08 No. of teams from the neighbourhood registered for the football tournament