21-yr-old student cleans 1000 tonne garbage from Dadar Beach, wins UN award

We don’t really hesitate to throw the waste on the floor but we blame the government for no reason. The problem is not the government or politician but it is you! The problem wouldn’t have started if you dispose of the garbage to the dustbin.

Case in point, Malhar along with his friends, marched up to Mumbai’s Dadar beach on September 10, 2017, to collect the garbage thrown by people.

Initially, it all started as a weekend activity for all of them and they slowly turned this into a full-fledged cleanup movement with 20,000 people.

Credits: TBI

The 21-year-old Malhar, a resident of Dadar, is the founder of ‘Beach Please,’ a campaign started to clear trash from Dadar beach in Mumbai through weekly cleanup drives.

“I have lived in the city for two decades. I have realised that the power to make a city better or worse lies with us. We cannot keep blaming the government authorities.

It was during the Ganesh Visarjan when I saw how people are destroying the water bodies without giving any thought. I wanted to bring a change and that is how Beach Please was born,” Malhar tells The Better India (TBI).

Malhar Kalambe pledged to work harder, and his objective was quite clear about making the grand city a cleaner place, he tells TBI, in an exclusive interview.

Malhar Kalambe was recognised by United Nations with an award for cleaning the Dadar Beach and for making it a better place.

While this might be a huge commitment for most of us, for Malhar, it is a mission that is difficult but possible. The promise to work harder comes after he received the V-Award, an initiative by the United Nations Volunteers India. The award, supported by UNICEF, aims to celebrate young people, who are making the world a better place for all through their acts of volunteerism every day and everywhere.

It has been 87 weeks since the cleanup drive began and so far, close to 1000 tonnes of waste like plastic, stale food and religious offerings have been cleared from the beach.

Seeing his efforts, commitment and passion for an environmental cause, the UN felicitated him in Delhi on the International Volunteer Day (December 5, 2018) at a three-day event hosted at the UN Headquarters.

“This is the first award I have ever received, so it is very special for me. This award is a reminder that there is a lot to be done, and my cause is not limited to a beach. I am humbled and overjoyed to get recognition from such a prestigious organisation,” he says.

UN authorities conducted a workshop on methods to expand the movement and involve more people into this.

“They taught us about how to retain volunteers, and at the same time, engage new people. It is, by far, my biggest challenge. The same volunteers do not come every weekend. So, now my team and I have started to approach different colleges and corporates every week,” adds Malhar.

During cleanup drives, Malhar learnt that cleaning just the Dadar beach is not just enough as the main source of waste in the water is Mithi river, “The 18-km river is one of the most polluted rivers in Mumbai. 70 per cent of the river has settlements that dump waste directly into the river. The river is connected to the beach and all the refuse gets deposited in the beach.”

Just a week before Malhar received the award, he started one more mission of cleaning the Mithi river near the Mahim causeway.

Malhar and the volunteers spend two hours every Saturday and Sunday to clean the Dadar beach and Mithi river.

As many as 40 volunteers come for the river cleanup against the expectation of 100. Malhar is hoping that more volunteers would join them because it is a huge river. “I request Mumbaikars to come forward and help make our water bodies waste-free,” says Malhar.