CM Fadnavis offers cop cover to Afroz Shah, others

CM Devendra Fadnavis with Versova beach volunteers

Support poured in for Shah, 36, a lawyer practicing at the Bombay High Court, from all quarters after Mirror reported that he had suspended the Versova beach clean-up after 109 weeks ('Versova beach clean-up suspended as movement spearhead Afroz Shah alleges abuse by goons', MM, November 20).

Speaking about the incident that forced Shah to suspend the whole drive, he said, there was a police of garbage near a fishermen's area on the beach. He said that the volunteers were facing abuse from goons for picking up the garbage. Beach clean up has been temporarily suspended. "I had a very positive meeting with the chief minister and he immediately called up the police and the BMC top brass with instructions to help us". Also, Yuva Sena members would be present to ensure that those cleaning beaches are safe.

In the past five months, piles of picked-up plastic have not been cleared by civic trucks. "But more than that, we were working on the mindset of people", said Shah. "In the longer run, we need a comprehensive marine litter policy for Mumbai, and a waste-to-energy plant to treat garbage from the beach". In return Aditya Thackeray assured Shah that all support would be given.

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Afroz said that he made a decision to drop the drive since "despite working hard at the ground level, I realised that people's mindsets were not changing". Beach cleaning is a scientific process and needs to be tackled seriously. Shah was accompanied by over three dozen volunteers; regulars-Mona and Amir Keshwani and Rohan Kotwalkar-attended the meeting with him.

He added that the Prime Minister himself have been a prime supporter of clean India. "I failed on moral grounds", a heart-broken Afroz Shah said.

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