Students float clean-up campaign for RAK beach

A group of environmentally conscious students are seeking support from Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) authorities to launch a clean-up campaign on Al Hamra beach in the emirate.

The environmental club of the Mahatma Gandhi University off-campus centre in RAK took an interest in the clean-up initiative after students found a large dead sea turtle washed up on the seashore. The Al Hamra beach stretches for approximately 20km from the RAK Ice Land Water Park to Umm Al Quwain but the students say widespread littering and the sight of animal carcasses has made it a no-go area.

 

"We haven't been able to launch the clean-up drive yet because we are struggling to get permission from the RAK authorities," said Adam Benjamin, secretary of the environmental club at the university. "We sent a letter to the RAK municipality through the university management in November 2011 and haven't heard from them since."

Benjamin added that Richard Hay, Head of the university campus — who is currently overseas undergoing heart surgery — contacted an official at the municipality who assured Hay the matter would be looked into.

Gulf News was unable to get in touch with the RAK municipality at the time of going to print but was informed that a stretch of beach near Jazira Al Hamra (Red Island) has since been cleaned up.

"The Jazira Al Hamra is one area on the beach after Ice Land which has now been taken over by the Tourism Development and Investment Company [TDIC]," said Victor Louis, CEO of the RAK Tourism Development Authority. "The Jazira Al Hamra village has been declared a federal heritage sight and therefore that piece of the beach was cleaned up about a month ago."

He added that it was quite possible that the students did not get a response from the municipality given that clean-up plans were already under way. The idea to clean up the beach came about when Benjamin and his friends began filming a small documentary for their group presentation at the Emirates Environmental Group public speaking competition last year.

"We were making a video for our public talk and headed down to Al Hamra beach after a friend told us it was filthy," he said. "When we got there we found proof of the dead sea turtle, dead birds and fish and the remains of what looked like oil slicks spread on the seashore."

He added that the group spotted the large sea turtle washed up on the seashore with a cracked shell and surrounded by rubbish.

"This beach has so much potential for life to thrive but the pollution is killing all signs of life," said Benjamin. "There are lots of marine animals and birds that could be sustained but instead they are being killed by the huge amounts of rubbish."

Scope for coordination

Louis said that although the beach area around the heritage village has been cleaned up he would be happy to coordinate with the student group to clean up the rest of the beach.

"We need to coordinate with the students to see what locations they are talking about exactly," he said. "However, if they want to clean up the whole 20km stretch over a long period of time we are more than happy to coordinate with them."

Faisal Tayyab Khan, chairman of the student council at the university, has helped Benjamin rally a group of more than 50 students from Mahatma Gandhi University to help with the clean-up.

Khan said the first part of the clean-up drive will take about three weeks and will entail the collection of all the litter strewn across the beach. He added the rubbish collected would subsequently have to be recycled.

"The first part of the drive would be to clean up the shore and the second part would be to clean up the blackened and frothy water," said Khan. "We can't help with the second part, which is why we need the authorities, but we can do the basics with the manpower we can get."

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