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The Indian Ocean is the only ocean named after a country, that is, India. India’s coastline of more than 7,500 km reflects our vast ocean resources. To celebrate and commemorate 75 years of independence and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements, the Government of India has undertaken a unique initiative, a 75-week countdown to our 75th anniversary of independence: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

As part of the huge celebration, the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India is conducting a 75-day long mega cleanliness campaign named as Swachch Sagar, Surakshit Sagar. The campaign started on July 5th, 2022 and has 3 strategic underlying goals that target transformation and environmental conservation through behavior change. It will culminate with the largest beach cleaning event on Sept 17, 2022 (International Coastal Cleanup Day) which is also the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It aims to clean up 75 beaches all across the country’s coastline. The campaign includes 75 volunteers, who have been allocated to clean the beaches at every km of the 7500 km long Indian coastline. It will be the first-of-its-kind and possibly the world’s longest-running coastal cleanup campaign with the greatest number of people participating in it. The mission was launched in association with Indian Coast Guard, Environment Ministry, National Disaster Management Authority, Paryavaran Sanrakshan Gatividhi along with Vigyan Prasar, Students for development, and various other social organizations. The campaign runs with the hashtag #Swachhsagarsurakshitsagar on social media platforms.

Union Minister of State Science & Technology; Minister of State Earth Sciences Jitendra Singh said, this is a mass campaign involving all citizens. He said, “Led by the vision of Hon’ble PM, we are putting all our energy in making this a nationwide campaign. MoES is the nodal ministry, but we want related ministries and MPs to be part of it” and had a very meaningful meeting in this regard in the Parliament. This will play an instrumental role to spread awareness regarding the intense littering of plastics in the ocean waters, which has become a source of pollution and a threat to marine life. Apart from removal of garbage from the sea coasts, activities like campaign pledge, Nukkad Natak, cycle rally for plastic se azadi, beach cleaning and plantation, sensitization of local communities about the coastal clean-up campaign are also being carried out with exceptional enthusiasm. A mobile app “Eco Mitram” has been launched to spread awareness about the campaign and also for the common people for voluntary registration for the beach cleaning activity on the 17th September 2022. On 03 August 2022 Dr. M. Ravichandran, Hon’ble Secretary of MoES released apps for Digital Coast-India, water quality buoy and a demo of Swachcha Sagar Surakshit Sagar. More than 200 tons of garbage, mainly single-use plastic, was removed from the sea coasts during the first 20 days and more than 5200 volunteers from 24 States had registered for the campaign.

Studies have suggested that use of plastics forms over 50% of ocean litter which harms marine biodiversity, human health, and the economy. This mega clean-up drive is also a part of India’s fight against plastic as Prime Minister Narendra Modi called to completely restrict the use of plastics in a phased mission. On 1st July 2022, India banned the use, manufacture, or distribution of plastics across the country. According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, this initiative will bring a mass behavioural change among the people which in turn will contribute to environmental conservation. The Ministry also suggested three main goals of the drive that are to consume judiciously, dispose carefully, and segregate biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste at home. The goal is to clear up at least 1,500 tonnes of garbage by the end of the campaign.

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