Muscat: Known for its long stretch of sand, the Shumaisa Beach is one of the most popular spots in Barka, luring hordes of visitors during the weekend. But today the beach is not a pretty picture. Tonnes of debris — used truck tyres, paper, rusty cages, plastic bags, pile of rubbish, even a worn out pickup truck — line the entire stretch.
This litter is the result of, of course, waste left by beach-goers, stuff thrown around by boaters, and material dumped by companies. "It's a shame that people have scant regard for hygiene and environment. There is litter everywhere. I don't understand why people can't be more sensitive.
View the full photo gallery on http://www.timesofoman.com/Snapshot
Authorities too need to create awareness and take care of our country. This beach, if developed well, can be an investor's paradise," feels Shabeeb Al Raisi, a resident of Barka.
Al Raisi also pointed out that the Mesquite trees along the beach have been attracting a horde of insects, rodents and snakes.
"I urge the municipality to get rid of them," he said.
Stressing that litter is both an environmental issue and a social problem here as well all around the world, Jenan Alasfoor, Communications Coordinator, Environmental Society of Oman, said, "I think that this type of pollution deeply and morally offends the people who live in this community."
She added, "The ESO has noticed several beaches along the Omani coastline that are polluted with debris. It is a very sad sight. This is the shared responsibility of the whole community and we should all work towards maintaining a clean environment."
It only takes a call for awareness to help minimise waste. The beaches along the coastline of the Sultanate are all potential tourism hotspots and could contribute towards economic gains.
If all the beaches are developed, Oman could be one of the top tourism destinations in the world.
Salim Al Siyabi, Head of Awareness, Barka Municipality, said, "We are concentrating on cleaning the beaches in the wilayat. We are also creating awareness. We are cooperating with the public authorities and the community in cleaning the beaches."
The beach needs immediate attention because children are seen swimming in the sea littered with waste. Besides, joggers, too, are forced to do their exercise routine amidst so much litter.
But human beings' health isn't the only concern.
"Illegally dumped waste can also degrade soil and kill natural vegetation. It may prevent the vegetation from regenerating and animals from returning. Some waste, such as tires and certain chemicals, can be a fire hazard. Waste can also contain dangerous chemicals, and dust that can harm anyone who lives nearby or visits the area. Some illegally dumped waste can be stinking and attract rodents, insects and other vermin that are a risk to people's health.
Warm stagnant water standing in waste tires provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes," said Jenan of ESO.
Littering is harmful and illegal. The only solution is to keep the beach clean.
"We are hoping to develop the area and provide facilities needed for the comfort of the citizens and residents. So we welcome both, the public and private authorities, to cooperate and rid the beaches of litter for the love of our country," urged Al Siyabi.