By Aniket Saha:
Sometimes, all it takes to spark that idea and bring about a revolution is just a moment; a life-altering incident which ignites that desire to bring about a change and drives our actions to implement our decisions. Our journey started the day Abhishek, my friend in IIT, came to me with this thing that had been nibbling away at the back of his mind. On several visits to the Munirka slums, where he went as a volunteer in the Munirka teaching project, he encountered several children who fell ill on an unusually regular basis. Some digging into the matter (literally) led him to the root of the problem which was the vastly mismanaged waste management system employed in the Munirka slums.
If ever you get a chance to visit the Munirka slums, you will be welcomed by the over-powering stench of partially decomposed waste and the rolling hills that the heaps of garbage have formed on the sides of the roads and in half-dug ditches. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has managed to botch up the process of waste collection, segregation and disposal as is evident from the ever overflowing garbage bins. But to say that the people are at a lesser fault would be an injustice to the MCD. Illiteracy and unawareness amongst the residents of the Munirka slums about the importance of waste management and a clean environment has prevented them from taking any action against the negligence of the MCD and the heaping up of waste right outside their doors. This has led up to the blooming up of several problems in the slums, ranging from obnoxious smells to spread of infections and diseases.
These images were blazed into Abhishek’s mind and he took it upon himself to find a solution to this problem – an effective and sustainable solution to improve the current waste management system being employed by the MCD. He discussed his idea with me, extensively and in no time, we were a 5-membered team, driven by a vision and united by a goal – to transform the filthy lanes of Munirka slums and other such areas, into the clean roads that they were once! All of us are zealous, all of us determined and all of us ready- to act selflessly towards this cause. Nirmalya is the name of our endeavour: Nirmalya, derived from the Sanskrit word “nirmal” meaning pure, reflecting our efforts to restore the purity and sanctity of our environment through proper waste management.
Our numerous field trips to various slums around Delhi including Munirka Slums has revealed some disturbing facts about the current situation of the waste problem being encountered in the slums and the numbers associated with it. In the light of these statistics, we decided to conduct this cleanliness drive in the Sarasvati Basti. Doing this will accomplish two goals. Firstly, by involving the people themselves in this cleanliness drive, we aim to drive home the importance of cleaner surroundings and invite them to participate in the cleaning of their homes and their locality. Secondly, Once we are done with the cleanliness drive and rid the area of all the waste lying around, we have planned the installation of new garbage bins with separate compartments for biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes. Through prior talks with the MCD, we have come to an agreement under which the MCD has agreed to collect the garbage from these bins in an organised manner, without any delay or negligence.
This cleanliness drive is a small, first step in the larger scheme of things that are encompassed within our plan Nirmalya. Waste Management is no small problem and neither is our perseverance and determination. All it will take is to guide the people along the right track and the rest is up to them! Meanwhile, we will continue to do our bit to tackle this monster of improper garbage collection.
The Cleanliness Drive will be organized on 16th January 2016 at Sarasvati Basti.