Growing up amidst hardships and financial constraints, Dinesh Kumar Gautam perhaps understands what a struggle life can be. Even after becoming a successful journalist, memories of his childhood stayed with him.
In an earlier article we wrote about him, we spoke about Drishti, the NGO founded by him to provide for the education of children, the empowerment of women, and dental care for the underprivileged in five Indian states.
Two years later, The Better India spoke to him yet again to focus on his new project, which is all about cleaning up the Sabarmati river.
Why a river clean-up project?
Dinesh answers, “Nature offers us so much; it is a pity that we are unable to nurture and take good care of it.”
On one of the outings with his daughter, Drishti, she saw the Sabarmati river and commented on how dirty it was. Her exact words were, “Kitni gandi hai,” he recalls.
Not wanting to be one who criticises and makes comments, he decided to work towards cleaning it.
“I reached out to the District Collector, and the support I got from them was great. Not only did they give me a patient hearing but also helped me with the logistics and other aspects of this clean-up project,” he recalls.
On October 23, 2018, Dinesh started the work.
He says that Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. volunteers come together to help him.
“Supported by the locals and also government agencies, we have managed to collect and responsibly dispose of close to 600 tonnes of waste. We also have help from the NSS and NCC, so on an average, we have nearly 50 volunteers on the site on any day.”
While pictures show the river always looking beautiful and well-maintained, the problem areas are upstream, and that was what Dinesh focused on.
He says, “We focus on the upstream area of Sabarmati river, the area between the twin cities–Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad–and have also adopted the 5 km patch there.”
Another thing that the NGO is involved in is tree-plantation.
Dinesh says, “It doesn’t end with planting the saplings. We are also involved in their upkeep for at least five years after the plantation drive.”
“Cleanliness is not rocket science. All it requires is the coming together of various civic bodies and the citizens,” states Dinesh.
His message for all of us is a simple one: “If you wish to make a difference, then start working towards it. You will see that things align themselves to help and support you.”
To know more about the NGO and its activities, check the website.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)