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Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020

Indian Prime Minister video-plogs, hundreds participate in Mumbai beach clean-up

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has released a video of himself walking barefoot on a beach and picking up litter at a resort in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UN Champion of Earth, went plogging on Saturday morning at Mamallpuram beach at sunrise. In Mumbai, over 500 did the same, as they have been doing for over 200 weeks. They may not have jogged, but they picked up plastic litter at Versova, and later at Dana Pani beaches, before watching a beautiful sunset, their bodies glistening, hearts still racing and minds glowing with a “sense of ”, as Champion of Earth Afroz Shah said “exhilaration”. Modi had last year tweeted, “My friend Afroz is an inspiration to the country.”

“This is our 208th weekend cleaning and it’s not just a clean-up of beaches, but also training people to adopt circular economy and change in mindsets to not litter, and for industries to be responsible towards nature,” said Shah, who received UN’s highest environment honour as earth champ in 2016, two years before Modi. He added, “The focus is to take our mission ahead. And our mission is to rid the ocean of marine litter.’’ On Saturday, as he picked up more sand-filled milk packets and tea packs at Dana Pani in Malad, Shah told TOI, “PM Modi as highest civilian authority stepping out on a beach to pick up plastic litter sends a hugely powerful positive message to the country, that if he can do it every citizen can. His act today is the embodiment of a citizen’s duty towards protection and preservation of environment under constitutional scheme under Article 51A(g).”
Thousands of children from 66 schools in the city picked up plastic bottles, shampoo sachets, chips packets and plastic bags. Jay Mishra and two bus-loads of Billabong high school students were at Dana Pani in the evening. They said they were happy with what the PM did as it was their first time at the clean-up. Other schools like Ryan International and Vibgyor are regulars, as are students of MMERC, a school for religious scholars, at the clean-up.

There were also top politicians from across continents on the beaches of India. Norway foreign minister Jens Frolich Holte and Harald Solberg, CEO of Norwegian Shipping Association, were at Versova, accompanied by their consulgeneral in Mumbai, Ann Olestaad.
Holte said, “We are cleaning the beach with friend Afroz Shah, and we must take better care of our seas. Norway and India are in it together.” Solberg thanked Shah for his “strong work and passion” and promised to “help with the ocean clean-up” in keeping with his April assurance in Oslo.
Shah said that since the start, with help from dedicated volunteers, they pulled out 30 million kg of plastic and other trash in Mumbai from two beaches and Mithi river.
Former UN environment chief Erik Solheim was the first to arrive on October 2, 2016, and had pledged support to a citizen’s initiative which he dubbed as “the biggest and the best plastic clean-up in history’’.
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