Versova, a beach that was once infamous due to garbage dumping and floating waste deposits coming with the high tide, has now become one of the cleanest beaches in Mumbai.
Thanks to the efforts of Afroz Shah, Advocate and Environmentalist, and around 4000 volunteers and the Reliance Industries Ltd's (RIL) most advanced specialized beach cleaning machine.
RIL came into the action as Akhilesh Bhargava, Managing Director Avi Global Plast, All India Plastic Manufacturer Association (AIPMA), Environment Committee, former Chairman, and a keen supporter of Versova Cleanup drive approached the company along with Shah for supporting the good cause. RIL studied the problem and researched global best practices to solve this complex problem.
During the study, it was observed that Versova being one of the beaches where the sea throws up a maximum amount of waste on the shore and there was lack of awareness among locals about littering on the beach. Despite the tireless efforts of large army of volunteers, there is a limit to the continuous removal of the recurring pile of waste deposited on the beach.
After a thorough study, RIL has identified a globally renowned Bobcat, a compact equipment manufacturer for construction, landscaping, agriculture, grounds maintenance, and mining to supply a unique machine which can remove the sand 6 inches beneath the surface, remove the waste material and relay the sand.
The special feature of the beach cleaning Bobcat machine is its capacity to dig 6 inches below the surface on the beach and remove the debris through an attached sieve and relay the sand. It also has the flexibility to use other hydraulic attachments for a holistic solution. RIL has signed a contract with the Bobcat to provide the machine on the beach for two shifts, based on low tides, for all days in a month.
This is one of its kind equipment available in India for beach cleaning and its effectiveness could attract beach cleaning activities carried out by local authorities throughout the country.
The effectiveness of the Bobcat machine can be judged from its performance of 500 manhours in an hour or 4000 manhours worth of work in eight-hour shift in a day.
RIL's efforts to deploy this machine at Versova has created a unique example for the entire nation. This could be one of the cost-effective remedy than the current beach cleanup contracts being awarded by local authorities. RIL believes once people see the effectiveness of machine this solution may catchup with all other beaches in India.
Before the machine was mobilised, on a weekend, anywhere between 3000-5000 volunteers used to clean the Versova beach. Still, the enthusiasm of volunteers is upbeat and they do show up with the same vigour, but there is less work on the beach now and their energy is now diverted on other important initiatives like working with the adjoining slums to create awareness about the benefits of cleanliness and how to reduce littering.
Shah was honoured with the Champion of Earth by UNEP In 2016 for his diligent efforts in cleanup efforts at Versova beach with the help of volunteers.
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