Versova Beach in Mumbai, India is unrecognizable now after an 85-week clean-up effort. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has called it one of the world’s largest beach clean-ups in history with more than 5,000 tonnes of waste removed to reveal the golden sands lurking below.
Take a look at the before and after shots of the beach’s drastic transformation.
It all started when a 33-year-old began clearing the ocean front with the help of a neighbour back in October 2015. After a few months, the pair were joined by more than 1,000 volunteers including workers from local companies, school children and Bollywood stars.
The rewards of their labour were finally recognised this spring. Mr Shah posted a photo to Twitter on May 19 showing Versova beach looking like a desirable sun spot rather than a rat-ridden dump.
He captioned the photo: ‘Versova beach is gorgeous and clean now.
‘We have done our bit. We need to maintain it.’
Mr Shah said he was prompted to start the clean-up after becoming alarmed by the piles of rubbish clogging on the once picturesque waterfront.
‘I shifted to my new apartment two years back and saw plastic on the beach – it was 5.5 feet high. A man could drown in the plastic,’ Mr Shah told CNN.
‘I said I’m going to come on the field and do something. I have to protect my environment and it requires ground action.’
Along with clearing the shoreline, Mr Shah’s taskforce also cleaned 52 public toilets at the beach and planted 50 coconut trees. In recognition of Mr Shah’s volunteer work, he was awarded the Champion of the Earth award by the United Nations last year. He is said to be the first Indian to achieve such a feat.
It’s now hoped the incredible results will inspire similar initiatives to help save other polluted beaches around the world.