Is this Mumbai's Versova beach or a dumping ground?

Sep 16, 2014, 11:22 IST | Shailesh Bhatia

Versova locals complain of civic apathy in cleaning garbage that has been lying on the beach for the last week, and people using the seafront as a public toilet

Once a scenic seafront, today the Versova beach looks more like a dumping ground. Residents complained that it has been a week since the garbage has accumulated at the beach, but the civic authorities have done nothing to clear it.

Locals claim that the stench emanating from the garbage is nauseating, forcing them to keep the windows shut round-the-clock
Locals claim that the stench emanating from the garbage is nauseating, forcing them to keep the windows shut round-the-clock

“The stench is unbearable. Every time we pass the beach, we hold our breath,” said Neena Saini, a local. Complaining about the lackadaisical approach of civic officials in keeping the beach clean, Neena’s husband, Sushil, said, “It’s been a week since the garbage started piling up at the beach.

The stench it emanates is so powerful that we are forced to keep the windows shut all the time. The beach view was the reason why we purchased our houses here. It is no longer scenic. The view from our flats, which cost crores, is that of a dirty beach and squatters using it as a public toilet in the mornings.”

He added that it is extremely painful to see that idols were being immersed in the same water, which the squatters now use to clean themselves after defecation. “In the past, we had organised a signature campaign, in which thousands of residents had signed a petition. It was even forwarded to the state government, but nothing has happened till date,” Sushil said.

BMC speak
While Assistant Municipal Commissioner of K/West ward, Vishwas Shankarwar, remained unavailable for comment, Assistant Engineer Ajay Patne said, “I shall personally visit the site and do the needful to get the beach cleaned at the earliest.” Patne, who is in charge of solid waste management, said that the department had not received any complaints from the locals.

The blame game
Yashodhar Phanse, the local municipal corporator, blamed the high tides for the accumulation of filth on the beach. “Every year, between June and October, high tides bring in tonnes of garbage from the north-west part of the city. This happens twice a day, and the garbage has to be removed manually because bigger cleaning machines cannot enter the beach.

We had hired a contractor in the past, but he quit the job, stating that the garbage just kept on accumulating despite cleaning the beach,” Phanse said. He even blamed the residents of the local fishermen colony for soiling the beach. “Even today, Kolis use beaches for defecating. It is a habit they need to change,” he added.

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