Lawyer, who started initiative to clean up Versova beach of plastic and waste, is now sprucing up toilets in slums along the beach to stop open defecation
(From left) Lawyer Afroz Shah has started cleaning community toilets in the slums. A clean Versova beach after another Sunday's work
After removing over 48 lakh kg of plastic from Versova beach over the last one and a half year, city-based lawyer Afroz Shah has now taken up the fight against dirty toilets in the slum pockets along the beach to stop open defecation.
One of the main reasons for open defecation is lack of toilets or unhygienic ones, believes Shah, adding that if that is tackled, it will stop people from going to the ocean for nature's calls.
Shah, who had taken up the beach clean-up with like-minded individuals, has been given the Champions of the Earth award by the United Nations for his "extraordinary work".
Shah and his group, with help from the civic body, removed plastic and other waste from the 2.5-km long beach as part of the weekend initiative, which received a tremendous response. The lawyer realised the problem of open defecation during the beach clean-up, with slum dwellers coming to the sea for the same, also restricting morning and evening walkers as well as tourists to a stretch of the waterfront.
The only solution
After interacting with the slum dwellers, Shah realised that the only solution was to clean the existing community toilets in the area, which were in an extremely filthy condition, pushing people to go elsewhere. "There are over 50 toilets in the slum pockets; we have started cleaning them with the help of civic officials. Our team and BMC staff are also creating awareness about the hazards of open defecation and its negative impacts on people's health as well as marine life," said Shah.
48L kg Plastic and waste removed from beach over 18 months
76k kg Plastic and waste removed from the beach on Sunday
30 Workers taking part in the beach clean-up on Sunday
73 Number of weeks the beach clean-up has completed