The Village Project aims makeover for Khar Danda beach

Master chef Max Orlati, fashion designer Salim Asgarally, choreographer and columnist Nisha Harale, actor and model Adam Bedi, film producer Akash Thakkar, social activist Nitin Pore, artiste Bina Aziz, commercial artiste and writer Madhuri Iyer, waste management expert Stewart Klevan, PR specialist Dale Bhagwagar, and writer, filmmaker and social activist Vinta Nanda, have brought together their skills to form an NGO by the name of ‘The Village Project India’.

Even as the oil spill threatens to destroy the business of Mumbai’s fishermen community, the team of The Village Project India, along with Shiv Sena corporator Vilas Chavdi, have joined hands to educate and inform the Khar Danda Fishermen’s Urban Village about the need to save their environment.

The NGO will support the Khar Danda Fishermen’s Village Association in cleaning up one of the most beautiful sea fronts and jetties in the heart of the city of Mumbai. The NGO has also invited more like-minded people to come forward and be a part of an eclectic core committee, for this social cause.

“With a population roughly over 25,000 people, the Khar Danda village consists of the original inhabitants of Mumbai – the Kolis – who have watched a mindless metropolis grow around them without anyone having given a thought to what would become of one of the city’s most spectacular beaches – the Khar Danda beach,” said the project’s spokesperson Dale Bhagwagar, also a member of the NGO’s core team.

“With a problem of access to the beach because of narrow lanes leading to it, Mumbaikar’s never noticed that the precious property was being vandalized by plastic and other waste which has collected over the years to form a filth which only a massive operation can clear now. The Village Project, with the help of the inhabitants as well as the political outfits in the area, plans to take up this humongous task,” informed Bhagwagar.

Their plan is to have the dirt removed, which could take a minimum of three months of sustained effort, and then to provide the village with a system by which maintenance operations can be carried out regularly.

To make the program sustainable, The Village Project plans to support the inhabitants of the Khar Danda village through their own association, to commercialize large parts of the sea fronts, by organizing special contests, competitions, sea food festivals, sponsored fashion shows, music gigs, open-air programs for theater and other events of arts, as well as, help build some enterprise.

Chef Max Orlati and designer Salim Asgarally as well as the other members of the core group will bring their expertise to supervise training programs for the villagers to help them create an economy as well as income generating businesses in the area.

The Village Project also plans to tie up with other NGO’s to educate the children of the village, so they grow to be responsible towards their environment. The NGO is also in discussions with the Khar Danda Fishermen’s Village Association to run programs for women as well as the thousands of fishermen of the village.

The first initiative

Beginning with a pre-Independence Day programme, on August 13, 2010, ‘The Village Project India’ is holding a painting competition between fifty children who have shown a talent for art in the Municipal School Compound at the Khar Danda Fishermen’s Village.

The subject given to the children (who belong to different communities) is ‘Ganesha’. The colors are sponsored by Camlin and drinking water and snacks by Parle Agro Industries. Awards will be given to the top three paintings, with the competition judged by fashion designer Salim Asgarally, artiste Bina Aziz and actor and model Adam Bedi.

The event will be compered by choreographer and well known MC Nisha Harale Bedi. Trophies will be presented by Shiv Sena corporator Mr Vilas Chavdi, and head of the Khar Danda Fishermen’s Village Association, Mr Bhaichand.

The finest artistes will be selected for a two-day art workshop to be held by some of the best known artistes of Mumbai in the forthcoming vacation, also organized by The Village Project.

The best painting will also be used for a design on T-shirts which would be created by fashion designer Salim Asgarally for the organizers and workers of the Khar Danda Ganpati Mandal, who will be wearing them throughout the ten-day upcoming Ganesh festival, from the Ganesh sthapana (statue establishment) to the visarjan (immersion) at the village.