VISAKHAPATNAM: Walk into a beach and it is no more a scenic view. Plastic bottles cluttering under the feet, empty chips packets and cardboard pieces lying scattered on the seashore are an eyesore to watch and hazardous to the environment. To curb this menace, Deepsri, a Class X student, has started an initiative called ‘We for Flora and Fauna’, aiming at voluntary beach cleanup every Sunday.
“Looking at grown-ups not doing their bit and with every day at least one pufferfish washing ashore, made me ponder to form a group of children that voluntarily does beach cleanup rather than doing a walkathon or holding banners,” Deepsri said.
The group is growing and now it has about 35 members, mostly students. They started a voluntary initiative and it is not under any organisation to avoid enforcing decorum and to have freedom of picking up the waste to keep our surroundings clean on a voluntary basis. But the sad thing is that even if a beach cleanup is open to all, only a few people turn up due to ignorance and lethargy, Deepsri said. “There is an urgency of keeping our oceans clean as 50 per cent of the oxygen comes from the sea and if we don’t treat it properly we have to face consequences,” she said. The objective of this initiative is to grab the attention of people and the government to come along and join the mission of ‘saving the oceans because they are dying’.
She said, “Whenever it rains, a chunk of plastic and other non-degradable waste is washed ashore just like in Mumbai. Hence, we want to do the beach cleanup on a large scale with the help of government or else soon the seashore will be a bed for dead aquatic animals.”
During the beach cleanup done in the early hours at RK Beach near Kurusura submarine museum on Sunday, the volunteers used latex medical gloves instead of plastic and weaved bamboo baskets for collecting the trash. The enthusiastic students also spoke to the adults who were seen in the morning at the pavement to create awareness on the pollution issue.
Anjali, one of the residents opposite the Beach Road, said, “When I came here long ago, the beach was so clean and tidy. My kids used to go to the beach every day and play frisbee, but now it is so untidy with sewage flowing into the sea and broken pieces of beer bottles. Plastic waste is found in heaps. A hazardous environment altogether.” On curbing the menace, she said, “It is by installing more dustbins on the beach, by putting up boards with a sign to not pollute the beaches and by imposing a fine like in Singapore.”
The increase of plastic waste hitting the plankton bed of the sea has resulted in the rise of temperature and 70 per cent decline in the marine species of Visakhapatnam, according to a study. Many of the species come under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. Recently, dead Olive Ridley turtles and pufferfish were washed ashore near Rushikonda and Sagarnagar beaches, she said.
JV Ratnam, the founder of NGO Green Climate, said, “These days there is a craze for ordering online food. Unfortunately, it is packed in plastic covers.”