It takes courage to go against the flow, and in this case, against the accumulation of tons of waste in and around Turbhe, Navi Mumbai, which was steadily becoming unlivable.
Students of Samta Hindi Vidyalaya, Turbhe initiated a cleanliness drive on October 2nd to make a point. Instead of blaming the authorities and municipal corporations, one should set an example by cleaning the mounds of garbage.
Nearly 200 students were trained by a newly formed Navi Mumbai group called Educators for Equality on how to handle waste in a scientific manner and on how to segregate it.
The lessons were demonstrated by ‘Eco-Friendz’, a group of senior students of the same school who are finding ways to implement sustainable ecology and pro-social economy.
The army of students, mainly of 9th and 10th standard, equipped with banners and broomsticks, trash cans and trolleys, started from their school at 9 AM and went from street to street cleaning and segregating whatever waste that came in their way.
Energetic slogans were raised and reverberated to promote segregation, cleanliness and spread awareness about health and hygiene as well. Prayaas, an NGO working in sustainable development, provided hand gloves, nose covers and caps for the cleanliness drive.
About 30 plastic bottles were stuffed up with non-biodegradable waste like polythene and food wrappers, weighing about 5 Kg. The overall volume reduction achieved was more than ten times.
About 25 kg of bio-compostable waste, composed of dry leaves, papers, leftover foods, fruit and vegetable peels were carefully separated from the mixed waste.
Thermocol waste was dissolved in acetone to dramatically reduce its volume by 50
times and to reuse the moldable plastic to make small decorative pieces, an idea suggested by Dr D B Naik, a BARC scientist..
After a hard day of cleaning and sorting, a puppet show was performed for the kids by professional puppeteers. It was about how children fall sick due to lack of cleanliness and how gullible people resort to fake religious ‘healers’ for their cure.
Swatch Bharat Abhiyan might have ended that day, but for communities that live beside a dumping ground, an annual token service is not enough!
As the young volunteers collectively voiced their opinion, they said, “We experienced the hardships and perils that safai karmcharis encounter every day. It does not make much sense to simply collect all waste and dump them in common dustbin once in a year. The fullest utilisation is only possible by careful segregation of source in a scientific manner, at grassroots level and day to day basis, and inculcate the habit of transforming ‘waste’ into valuable materials!”
Kids were taught how to treat organic waste. Neem seedlings were planted on top to consume the newly forming manure and grow, thereby making a garden out of all the organic garbage.
And thus began Swatch Turbhe Andolan, not a one-day event, but a perennial movement for
better environment, which aspires to collaborate with all like-minded scientific, pro-social
and environmental groups across the nation to level up Swatch Bharat Abhiyan to Swatch
By Nikhilesh Iyer