Oceans have always drawn people wanting to take in the sea air that provides a sense of peace; regardless of whether they are calm or turbulent. Beaches that help connect with nature are the most popular destinations during school vacations and other holidays. However, such places that see a large number of tourists also generate large volumes of garbage that people leave behind.
Last year, the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS) extended support to the Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar (Clean Coast, Safe Sea) campaign launched by the Ministry of Earth Sciences from 5th July to 17th September 2022 to promote the importance of a clean coast. The underlying objective of the campaign was to bring about behavioural change amongst the citizens of the nation, helping them understand the importance of consuming and disposing of responsibly; segregation of waste at home; and curbing the use of single-use plastic (SUP). As a result of the campaign, many coastal states have initiated measures to clean their beaches on a regular basis with a view to protecting the environment.
Here are details of some coastal cleanliness activities undertaken by Gujarat:
Tithal Gram Panchayat, Valsad District
Tithal village is located on the western coast in Valsad district of Gujarat. With a population of approximately 4,596, it is known for its beautiful beach located along the coastline of the Arabian Sea, which has become a popular tourist destination. Apart from being a picturesque spot, Tithal has also been developed as a pilgrimage site as about 1.5 km south of the village is the Sai Baba Temple and about 1.6 km north is the Swaminarayan Temple. Furthermore, a famous spiritual practice centre, ‘Shantiniketan Sankul,’ is located near the temple. People from all over the world visit the spiritual retreats for spiritual experiences and to attain mental peace, as a result of which Tithal has made significant development in tourism.
With a view to maintaining the cleanliness of the beach in the village, Gujarat Tourism Board has collaborated with the Gram Panchayat by engaging an agency. They have employed 12 SHG members who receive a daily wage of Rs. 350/-for their dedicated efforts. These women are responsible for daily cleaning activities at designated locations that are assigned to them. The accumulated waste is then collected and handed over to the municipality every fortnight for proper disposal.
Dandi Village, Jalalpor Block, Navsari District
Situated along the coastline of Jalalpor Taluka in Navsari district, approximately 20 km from the district headquarters, Dandi village has a population of 1,116. The village has historical significance as Mahatma Gandhi initiated the famous ‘Dandi March’ as part of the Salt Satyagraha there. It features landmarks such as the Dandi Museum, which commemorates the historical events associated with Mahatma Gandhi owing to which, Dandi is recognized as a tourist destination in Navsari district.
With a 2 km stretch of coastline, Dandi Beach is a tourist spot and there is a significant amount of waste generated by visitors. The Panchayat employs one person for a daily wage of Rs. 250/- for cleaning. Beach cleaning activities are carried out as per the requirements of the Panchayat, particularly during events such as the Ganpati Visarjan (immersion) ceremony. The collected waste is handed over to the municipality for processing and safe disposal.
Madhavpur Village, Porbandar District
Madhavpur village which is famous for its beaches and the well-known Madhavraiji Temple is located along the coastline, about 57 km from Porbandar. The population of the village is approximately 14,700. Towards the east of Madhavpur village, are the Rani Rukmani Temple, and the Osho Ashram.
The Gram Panchayat ensures the cleanliness of the Madhavpur beach on a regular basis. It employs 18 to 20 sanitation workers who receive a daily wage of Rs. 350 each for regular cleaning activities. The beach is renowned not only in Gujarat but also throughout India.
Vadinar village, Khambhadiya Block Devbhoomi Dwarka District
Vadinar village which is located approximately 25 km northeast of Khambadiya city, along the coastline, has a population of around 14,688. It is part of a cluster that includes 14 neighbouring villages where the primary occupation is agriculture, livestock farming, and fishing. About 5 km from the village, is a famous marine sanctuary called Narara Reef, known for its diverse marine life. The village is also home to corporate giant, Nayara Energy.
In Vadinar and the surrounding 14 villages, Nayara Energy and the Gram Panchayat jointly carry out sanitation work including the collection of door-to-door waste. For the cluster, as many as 3 mini-trucks and 13 e-rickshaws have been dedicated to managing both solid and liquid waste. The Gram Panchayat oversees the administration and supervises these activities. Nayara Energy employs 15 individuals for the sanitation work and they are paid a daily wage of Rs. 360 each. On a daily basis, the collected solid waste is segregated and the recyclable waste is handed over to local scrap dealers, while the non-recyclable waste is disposed of appropriately.
Somnath, Veraval Block, Gir Somnath District
Somnath Temple which is located approximately 6 km from the city of Veraval is the first Jyotirlinga (a devotional representation of Lord Shiva) of India. Thousands of devotees visit the temple for worship every day. Adjacent to the temple is a clean beach where visitors can enjoy boating and cycling facilities along the coastline. In the vicinity of the Somnath Temple, are other ancient temples such as the Bhalkeshwar, Geeta Mandir, Surya Mandir, and the Shri Ram Mandir. There is also a significant confluence site known as Triveni Sangam, where people perform various religious activities to honour their ancestors and seek peace for their departed souls.
To maintain the cleanliness of the long coastline near the Somnath Temple and Veraval City, the district administration of Gir Somnath District organizes cleanliness drives under the NSS (National Service Scheme) involving senior citizens, youth volunteers, and various departmental staff of the district. The cleaning work is carried out by the joint efforts of the Veraval Patan Municipality and the Somnath Temple Trust. Daily cleaning activities involve segregating the collected waste and disposing of non-recyclable waste at the designated dumping site of the municipality every fortnight for further processing.