On January 12, 2014, a group of six people in Bhopal decided to clean and beautify the city themselves, without the help of any government organizations or authorities. Recognised as the Bhopal i-Clean team today, they have now grown to become a group of 200 members, and have been working hard for cleanliness in the city for the past two years.
“We were inspired by the Facebook posts of The Ugly Indian, a voluntary organization conducting spot fixing activities in Bengaluru. Thinking that we should do something similar in Bhopal, we conducted a meeting, collected the required items, and got started. We were six people at the time who got connected with each other through a Facebook page called Bhopal – a city of Lakes,” says 53-year-old Kalpana Kekre.
The team formed a Facebook group called ‘Bhopal I-Clean Team, spot fixing program’ to coordinate with each other. After deciding the spot that they will be taking up next, the team meets every Sunday.
They work from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm and the agenda is simple – clean the dirty spots, paint any walls or pillars nearby with terracotta colour, and make a Warli art design using white paint.
While they started with crossroads and other such visible areas so people would come to know about their work, they have now moved to internal parts of the city too. Additionally, they are also coordinating with different residential colonies and housing societies to inspire them to do the same thing every Sunday. Till now, the team has cleaned and beautified 111 spots in Bhopal. Usually, about 50-60 people are present during the ground work as most of the team members are students. Kalpana runs a catering business from her house and other people include homemakers, business professionals, children, etc.
“We beautify the walls so that people think twice before making them dirty again,” says Kalpana, adding that the commissioner of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation also supports their cause and joins them at different spots on some Sundays.
Every member of the team contributes a sum of Rs. 50 per month, which is used during the cleaning process. Additionally, they have also started a ‘Raddi’ campaign where they ask people to donate scrap like old newspapers, broken utensils etc., which they then sell to the scrap dealers and use the money to purchase paint, gloves, brushes, masks, etc.
Here is a look at some of their work: