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Versova is an upmarket neighbourhood in the north western Mumbai. It is known for its beach and the Versova Fort. It was part of Portuguese India, which was part of the Portuguese Empire, until 1739, when the Portuguese lost this part of their empire to the Maratha Empire. The beach of Versova recently undertook a massive clean-up effort, labelled as the largest ever beach clean-up.
Britishers used to call this vis-a-vis and locals gave it the name Visava.
The original name of the village is "Visava", which derives from the Marathi word for "rest" (as in resting place). The village is mentioned in the writings of Gemelli Careri in 1695.
Versova came under the Portuguese rule in the medieval period. The Portuguese constructed the Our Lady of Health Church in Versova, and a number of Kolis converted to Christianity during this period. By 1720, it had emerged as a small town, with a small fort and a growing trade in dry fish. In 1739, the Portuguese lost the area to the Marathas, who strengthened the fort. A British force led by Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Keating defeated the Marathas in 1774.
In 1800, the British established a training facility for artillery and engineering cadets. However, the facility was moved to the old Bombay city after a fever epidemic affected nearly all the cadets, and killed many of them. The military establishment was completely removed in 1818. In 1875-86, the exports from the trade amounted to GB£34,403 and the imports in 1876-77 were worth GB£14,784.
Environmental Clean-up Efforts
By 2015 Versova beach had become choked with up to 5.5 feet of rotting refuse and trash - most of it plastic.
In October 2015 Afroz Shah, a young lawyer and environmentalist in Mumbai moved into the area and along with Harbansh Mathur, an 84-year-old who has since died, began efforts to clean up the beach. Eventually Shah started a volunteer organization, Versova Residents Volunteers, and encouraged volunteers to show up for weekly "dates with the ocean" - so called because of how arduous the work was. Each Sunday the volunteers would gather to remove as much trash as possible. Over the course of 21 months, volunteers removed close to 11,684,500 pounds of trash, most of it plastic.
The volunteers also cleaned up 52 public toilets and planted over 50 coconut trees.
Recently, Afroz shah has appeared on several platforms as a champion of the cause to ban plastics and travelled across the country to several schools in a pledge to refuse, reduce and reuse plastic.
The shores of the Versova creek area are surrounded by flourishing Mangroves which support different kinds of organisms especially molluscs, crabs and fish.
- Location of Vesava - Falling Rain Genomics
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