Over the years, the Mandrem-Arambol stretch has become very popular among foreigners who sojourn for the winter months in Goa. While one can spot them swimming, hoola-hooping or sunbathing, what goes unnoticed is the effort they put in to keep the beach stretch pollution-free. Over the weekend, several foreigners still in Goa, got together to carry garbage from the sweet lake to Arambol beach. This is part of a larger project, steered by the community, to protect the beaches from the ravages of over-tourism.
In early May, Pavel Boloyangov from Russia and others cleaned up the cliffside beach for 10 days. “The garbage had to be brought to the main beach; which would have normally been done by boat. But due to the lockdown, we needed help to carry the bags,” he said about Sunday’s initiative.
Over the last couple of years, several volunteers have got together for clean-up drives. Minjung Kim aka Jade, a yoga practitioner from Korea, has been part of it since last year. “When I came to Arambol in December 2018, I felt very sad looking at the beach,” she says. She started her clean-ups last March and also made docus and sought help of the panchayat. “Despite many drives, it was not making any difference, as more garbage piled up every day without local and government support. Though most of the volunteers have left, I carried on, with the goal of cleaning the sweet lake,” she adds. This is when she met Pavel and they joined hands, carrying on the work this year too.
Ruslan from Russia, also part of the drive, said, “The area around the sweet lake had a lot of broken bottles and a huge pile of garbage. When I saw people were sorting this garbage, I decided to join in,” he says. Another nuisance is the burning of the garbage. Renata Lanzoni, a volunteer, says, “If we didn’t remove the rubbish, locals would have set fire to it. This is a common practice, though highly toxic.” They have been creating awareness about the ill effects of burning plastic and need for waste segregation and have placed bins around the beach and cliffside.
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