'Oceans don’t want to taste our waste': Meet Vizag scuba diver Subhash, who fights plastic pollution

In 88 days, the team of Platypus Escapes cleaned 59,400 kgs of garbage. 80% of the waste contained fabric, and cloth materials. He saw how small marine species, and turtles got stuck by plastic around them and got killed

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  8 Jun 2023 2:00 AM GMT
Oceans don’t want to taste our waste: Meet Vizag scuba diver Subhash, who fights plastic pollution.

Visakhapatnam: For him, Ocean is his second home. Just like his home, he ensures that his second home is neat and clean.

Meet Subhash Chandran, an internationally certified scuba diver and trainer who runs 'Platypus Escapes', ----a scuba diving school in Visakhapatnam.

Lived in Andaman for many years, Subhas came to Visakhapatnam in 2018 and set up the diving school in May 2019.

While Subhas usually goes Scuba Diving, one day, he was just swimming in Rushikonda when he saw how plastic floating around, which is released from the drains and thrown by the public. He and his team started cleaning every day.

"When diving, we realized how marine species are entangled with plastic and waste. At that moment, we cleaned for two hours and collected 400 kgs of wet garbage. This did not stop for one day. We did the same Ocean cleaning every day. I could only realize how bad the beach is after diving underwater," said Subhash, who is also India's first trainer to train the disabled.

With a team of five members, Subhash used to go scuba/snorkeling in the sea for ocean cleaning.

In 88 days, the team cleaned 59,400 kgs of garbage. 80% of the waste contained fabric, and cloth materials. He saw how small marine species, and turtles got stuck by plastic around them and got killed.

"Waste from about 28 drainages is released into the sea. There are no alternative ways for waste to get disposed of. But, it can be prevented by putting barricades to block the plastic waste and micromaterials from entering the oceans. Barricades like nets cab stop the pollution going to the Ocean," Subhash told NewsMeter.

"Drain water can be filtered and sent to the sea as done in a few countries. But Government doesn't have an awareness of how the Ocean is getting affected," Subhash added.

Collected 2400 kgs in 45 min

What's more surprising is how badly the oceans are being affected by the use of plastic understood by these Scuba Divers with the amount of waste collected.

One day, the team volunteered 50 members and collected 2400 kgs of waste in 45 minutes. "We go up to 3-4 meters depth (100 meters distance from the beach). If we stop cleaning for three days, the plastic keeps on increasing," said Subhash.

Being a costly affair to go scuba diving every day, Subhash and his team alternatively take up snorkeling and scuba diving with the minimum facilities. He has also made it compulsory for those who learn Scuba Diving to be part of the ocean cleanup session to learn about Oceans.

"There were days when people used to criticize me, call me 'Kachada Wala'. But we never gave up," said Subhash, who sometimes gets help in funding from his friends for the ocean cleanup.

Big surprise from PM

Things changed for the better after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about Subhash in Mann ki Baat in 2019 for doing their bit for the Swachh Bharat cause.

He was also invited to be part of the 100th Mann ki Baat live show in New Delhi a month ago.

Appreciation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come as a big surprise for Subhash. "Scuba Divers from Visakhapatnam, within 13 days, have removed more than 4000 kgs of plastic waste from the sea. Taking inspiration, if we too take a pledge to rid our surroundings of plastic waste, Plastic Free India can become a new example for the whole world," said Modi during Mann ki Baat.

Need for recycling units-Segregation of waste

The most challenging part comes after collecting the waste, when the team has to segregate it and dispose of it. It is too heavy as it is wet, and they have to carry the waste manually. "We collect the waste, pack it properly, and give it to the GVMC. But there is a need for recycling units to be set up in the city," said Subhash.

"Common people cannot always be blamed, but it is their responsibility to stop using plastic. Segregating plastic at home is what they can do. Oxygen levels in the oceans are reducing due to pollution, and corals are being destroyed. If this is the case, by 2050, it will be an Ocean of plastics," said Subhash, who is conducting a mega cleanup.

Protecting Oceans

While Scuba Diving was his career, worried about how the Oceans are getting spoiled and marine species were getting killed, Subhas decided to do anything to protect the oceans.

Platypus Escapes conducts an ocean cleanup program at Rushikonda Beach on June 8 from 6 am to 8 pm. The team has called the citizens to join hands to protect the oceans, marking World Ocean Day.

"Our next step is to prevent this plastic from entering the beaches. We advise anyone can come and volunteer us for a clean ocean," said Subhash.

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