For 20 something Malhar Kalambe, weekends are not about just about hanging out with friends. Instead, they have a different mission - cleaning the Dadar beach.
Mumbai’s Dadar Beach is looking a lot cleaner now, thanks to the efforts of Malhar Kalambe, a resident of Dadar. Malhar started cleaning the Dadar beach back in September 2017, along with his friends, and it soon turned into a community work that involved more than 20000 Mumbai residents. the clean up was reminiscent of the huge effort and achievement of Afroz Shah, who led the way with a clean up of Versova beach, another one of the city’s iconic beaches, back in 2016-17.
Malhar is now the proud recipient of the V-Award by the United Nations Volunteers India. Supported by UNICEF, the award encourages young people to work hard for their world and bring about positive change. Malhar’s initiative to clean Dadar Beach resulted in the removal of close to 1000 tonnes of waste from the beach, making it a lot cleaner in the process.
Started on 10 September, 2017 as ‘Beach Please’, the initiative at Dadar beach has finally made it a beach that is once again drawing back crowds, including people who want to ensure it stays clean this time.
“Actually the idea stemmed from my vacation to Bali, the pristine clean beach left me in awe. When I returned, it was Ganesh Utsav and our beaches were in shambles. During a conversation with my mother, I was complaining about how bad our beaches are compared to beaches in Bali, and mother just said, don’t complain, if you care, just go and clean and thus ‘Beach Please’ ”, Malhar Kalambe told local media. That was one piece of parental advice that all of Mumbai should be thankful for, as it turned out.
In 87 weeks since the cleanup drive began, besides the 1000 tonnes of trash, thousands of people have also had a chance to join and experience the joy of contributing to making their environment better.
Dadar Chowpatty, as the beach is called, had been in slow decline for years, gradually pushing away most visitors due to filth. The state government did try to clean and beautify the place, but it was always a losing battle, with little to low local involvement and awareness about their plans.
Malhar and his friends have realised that in order to make a sustainable difference, they have make people understand that they have to stop dumping garbage into any source, which further dumps it into the ocean.
“Awareness, recycling and cleaning up are three steps which can bring a change which is long lasting impact. As a result, we have started awareness programme that people don’t dump garbage in nallas and the river apart from the regular cleaning we are doing every week. I hope people realise that it’s their duty to keep their surrounding as well as their ocean clean,” Malhar added.
While Mumbai should be grateful to yet another local citizen who took matters into his own hands to make it better, the effort holds a lesson for everyone, including the state government. Local citizens do care, provided they are supported, and they can see the impact of their effort. Not just paying taxes which seem to disappear with no change to their lives. In a city like Mumbai, with a huge premium on open spaces for social life, nature’s bounty in the form of its beaches have been neglected and abused for decades, and the new trend to start reclaiming these for public use is welcome.