NEW DELHI: The largest beach clean-up in the world would be a reward in itself. But for spearheading it, Mumbai-based lawyer Afroz Shah has been named as one of winners of the top environmental honour of the United Nations. Shah will be among those bestowed with the Champions of the Earth award for leading the clean-up of Mumbai’s Versova Beach.
Shah will receive the award under the ‘Action and Inspiration’ category for kick-starting a volunteer campaign to pick up, by hand, all the plastic bags, cement sacks, glass bottles, pieces of clothing, and shoes, that covered the entire 2.5-km stretch of the Versova Beach, even rising many feet high in some places.
The movement grew and grew over the past year and picked up a whopping 4,000 tons of garbage.
“Shah’s efforts, and the hundreds of volunteers he’s inspired, is a wonderful example of citizen action and reminds the rest of the world that even the most ambitious, global agreements are only as good as the individual action and determination that brings them to life. His outstanding leadership is drawing global attention to the devastating impacts of marine litter,” said United Nations Environment Project (UNEP) chief Erik Solheim, who had joined Shah in the clean-up for a day in October.
Lewis Pugh, the United Nations Patron of the Oceans, too, congratulated Shah in a twitter. “So delighted that Afroz Shah has won the UN’s highest award for his incredible efforts to clean Mumbai’s beaches!!” he tweeted.