This is a story of one community’s success in cleaning up their coastline that is frequently strew with garbage, left behind by tourists that frequent their beaches each holiday season.
A long stretch of coastline dotted with beaches, Vengurla Taluka of Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra is home to several habitations of fishing communities. Most of the families come from the low income group and are dependent on fishing and sale of coconuts for their livelihood. The pristine beaches of Vengurla Taluka also attract many tourists every year, and this has become an additional source of income for the local fisher-folk.
Unfortunately, many tourists visit the scenic beaches of the area during their summer holidays which is just before the monsoon. Invariable, they leave behind a lot of garbage including plastic waste that not only litters the sand but also enters the sea, only to be cast ashore by the waves during high tide.
Such garbage becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and houseflies, particularly during the monsoon. Not only does it make for an unsightly scene, it also contaminates the surroundings and spreads disease among the communities of the coastal hamlets.
To address this, the Panchayat Samiti of Vengurla has initiated a monsoon beach cleanliness drive on the beaches of Vengurla Taluka. Such drives have also been carried out every year earlier, with the involvement of the local community. Significantly, the cleanliness drive takes place despite heavy rain, when people set aside their routine jobs to enthusiastically volunteer to clean the beaches of Vengurla.
Initially it was difficult to involve people, but when the Panchayat Samiti officials worked on their own, seeing their efforts, people of Vengurla were inspired to join in and support the drive wholeheartedly. Such activities are bound to ensure sustainability of the initiative, setting an example to other gram panchayats in the long run.
In Sindhudurg district which has been declared open defecation free (ODF) earlier, this is seen as a move to achieve ODF plus status. People there have already been acquainted with the Swachh Bharat Mission and are well aware of safe sanitation practices.
(Contributed by ZSBP – Sindhudurg)