Who doesn’t dream of living by the beach, being one with the air and atmosphere around, walking by the beach on the sand, and simply enjoying the tranquility which we often do not receive in our day to day mundane and over-the-top busy lives?
Indranil Sengupta and Rabia Tewari had probably expected the same when these two hardworking people shifted from Shivaji Park to a new sea-facing apartment by the beach in Mahim in 2017. But what they got instead didn’t quite do justice to their expectations. Rabia and Indranil, who shifted to Mahim beach for a peaceful life by the beach, was highly disappointed and frustrated because they could hardly see the beach, which was covered with piles of garbage.
Credits: Indranil and Rabia
Owing to their sorry circumstances, the couple made sure to fight back. So, they made it a point to take up this mammoth task of cleaning the Mahim beach every weekend, early in the morning from 8 to 10 AM and make sure to remove as much garbage as possible. They clean from the Dargah Lane at Mahim to the Hinduja Hospital situated just along the stretch. It was their gloves and them, who started this brilliant job alone but eventually, some BMC staff and volunteers from several parts of the city are taking this initiative forward along with this power couple.
Here’s what the couple said when they shared their experience with HotFridayTalks.com:
“When we shifted to our Mahim flat, it was the rainy season, and during this time, the sea ends up puking all the garbage, due to which all we could see was about 3.5 feet high garbage, and no sand at all on the beach. Even after calling up BMC several times, when we got no response, Rabia suggested, that we take up the task ourselves” says Indranil. “Of course there was a sense of anger and frustration that worked within me to be in a situation like this. A consciousness also worked as to how the world would perceive us as a couple picking up other people’s garbage. But Rabia was more clear about the entire thing, that this garbage needs to be cleaned, and those inhibitions did not work within her. So armed with a pair of gloves, we started on our journey of the Mahim Beach Clean-up.”
The couple credited their inspiration to Afroz Shah who was the person behind the Versova Beach clean-up campaign.
When asked, how could Rabia even come up with this daring idea of taking up this mammoth task, Rabia says, “I found it pretty simple that e wanted to use a public beach which is filled with garbage everywhere, which needs to be cleaned because I could not keep looking at this.”
Indranil further said, “Looking at the garbage from the flat and going down to the ground was a totally different experience and the ground reality was shocking. There was only 19 BMC staff assigned for a stretch of 4 Kms, from Mahim beach to Prabhadevi, whereas, considering the amount of garbage dumped, this stretch needed at least 200 volunteers to clean it up.”
“Mahim is the place, where the Mithi River, meets the sea. The river has now been converted into a drain due to small establishments, industries and slum dwellers on its bank, who dispose of their garbage into it. And there is no filtration system to inhibit the garbage from going into the sea, so all that garbage ends up here.” says Rabia. “After cleaning a patch in the first weekend we could actually see sand beneath the garbage, which was such a fulfilling experience. That gratifying feeling of seeing the water running freely on the sand was something that kept us going the weekend after weekend to clean more.”
For Rabia, who is not a morning person, it was a challenge to get up before 8 every weekend for the clean-up, but at the end of the day, they were not willing to look at the same garbage and Rabia says, she does not regret having got up early on weekends for the cleanup.
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It's not easy to smile through a job that surrounds you with litter. And yet, these spirited BMC marshals join us at the beach every weekend morning – rakes and scoops in tow! Unsung heroes of our city's hygiene struggles, we thank them for their help and dedication. #MahimBeachCleanUp #oneyear #givetolive #fortheocean #refuse #reduce #reuse #recycle #beatplasticpollution #clean #beach
“From 5 to 15 to 150 to just the two of us, we have had several counts of volunteers in different weekends, sometimes people from schools and corporate offices joined as well. When we started this, the BMC ground staff also got inspired and they helped with us in the clean-up and then they started showing up regularly and even the assistant commissioner of our ward supported us.” Rabia says.
On 9th September 2018, they have already completed a year since they started this cleanup campaign and have by now managed to clean about 700 tonnes of garbage! Some of the garbage has also been sent to recycling units so that these don’t end-up into landfills again. Out of the 800 meters beach stretch that falls in Mahim, this power couple has already managed to clean about 500 meters of it.
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Thank you @ankurtewari and Sidd Coutto, @manasi_parekh and @ashanker1607 for the unplugged musical morning by the beach to celebrate our one year anniversary! A fitting tribute to the occasion indeed. #MahimBeachCleanUp #OpenDoorFest #Culturegrind#CleanBeforeYouClaim #freeforall #beachfest #givetolive#beatplasticpollution #fortheocean #refuse #reduce #reuse #recycle
“From Day 1 we started documenting our work on our social media pages so that people got an idea of what we are doing and wanted to join and help us. We also post about the ills of plastic usage and spread awareness against single-use plastic.” says Indranil. “We also realized that the beach is such a lovely place to actually act as a great venue for cultural programs, so we started a campaign called ‘Clean Before You Claim!’ and we organized a free cultural event, an open door event and the idea was to clean, reclaim the city and have fun on it. There was an entire passageway painted by Bombay Ducks’ design. There would be a one-hour cleaning program and then there would be performances by talented personalities and celebrities like Manasi Parekh and Sidd Coutto on the beach itself. So, from a dirty, garbage heap to a lovely beach where there were dance and music being performed with people all around us participating, it was like a dream come true!”
Indranil is the Founder and CEO of a brand consultancy and multidisciplinary design house called IS Network, and Rabia is the business head in the company. The couple has also been approached by TEDx to speak about their great work and we really salute this super couple for their tenacity, dedication, and attitude to beautify our world.