Afroz Shah on ‘clean river’ mission in Shillong

SHILLONG: Mumbai environmentalist and United Nations awardee, Afroz Shah was in Shillong to launch a cleaning drive that started with cleaning the bed of Umkaliar river which is the up-stream flow of Wah Umkhrah. The river bed in Umkaliar is ridden with enormous amount of garbage, filth, plastics, sacks, clothes.

The cleaning drive is to kick-start the 75th anniversary of The Shillong Times.

Mumbai environmentalist, Afroz Shah (wearing cap)cleaning the Umkaliar river at a clean up drive in Umkaliar to kick-off the 75th anniversary of The Shillong Times on Thursday.

For Shah, cleaning rivers is nothing new and he is now attracting young people to take up the mantle of getting rid of plastic menace in river beds. On his Shillong experience, he said, “Absolutely amazing and this is what is required for Mother Nature. This river is crying for help. Our lifestyle has got us here.”

According to him, rivers face three problems – liquid waste, solid waste and people’s mindset and the aim is to get people together and change the mindset after getting the firsthand experience of cleaning a river.

According to him, the government should take steps to put up sewage treatment plants (STPs) and people should be given training on tackling the menace faced by rivers.

The plan is to have one cleaning drive every month to start with and his team has already floated a Facebook page to highlight the matter and once it builds up, the cleaning can be done every week.

Recalling that he has cleaned rivers in Mumbai which are far worse than River Umkaliar, he pointed out that methods of cleaning a river and a beach is different but the common sight in the water bodies is the garbage, plastic pollution, filth.

Stressing on the role of citizens to inculcate a sense of belongingness, Shah said, “We are experimenting on the first day. Like in Mumbai, we started with cleaning beaches, and then we went on to mangroves. We also create awareness. Young people should go back and make changes.”

On the plastic tsunami in River Umiam, he said, “It is the worst thing that can happen to our planet. It is very depressing news. I feel pain and sorrow.”

As a message, he said the people can show the love to the state of Meghalaya, India by coming out to clean the environment.

He pointed to the dupattas, shorts and plastics taken out from the river bed.

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