We started out seeking to establish a permanent solution to the litter problem in Nandi hills. On Sunday I think we took a significant step. This was never meant to be a simple cleanup drive because we knew that the garbage we pick up this sunday will find its way back before the next. We had to enlist the support of the powers that be. We had to make “noise”. That was the intention of involving the district commissioner’s office and the high court judges. The DC announced the zone plastic-free. The enforcement began in full earnest. Visitors were stopped at the gates, and asked to throw away their plastics, and paper bags were handed over to them. At the shops on the hilltop, shopkeepers cut open packets, emptied condiments into paper bags and handed them over. The cynics asked “How long will this really go on?”. Watch this space.
The morning began with about 20 esteemed judges from the Karnataka high court, along with the District Minister, pledging their support to this cause. After the short ceremony, we spread ourselves out and started collecting the garbage. Within an hour and a half we had more garbage than the truck could carry on one trip. We also managed to fill our second mini-truck that was transporting the plastic to be recycled.
It has been an amazing few weeks. Most heartening of all has been the number of people who have wanted to join us on this campaign. Although turning down several people during the last couple of days was a hard thing to do, it still felt heartening to see the sheer number of people who are willing to lend their hands to this. I think if we can only channelize all that intent, we can accomplish a whole lot of things. However, all hasn’t been rosy. Here are a few things that frustrated us.
* The number of people who turned up (600, judging by the amount of food consumed) threw us off-track a bit. This not only meant that some people were just completely uninterested in the cleaning up, but also resulted in us leaving a rather large carbon footprint in the process.
* In the melee, we also failed to effectively communicate the guidelines for the segregation of waste. This meant that a lot of plastic that could have been used for other purposes went to the landfills.
* There were too many people taking credit for nothing. Here’s our opportunity to acknowledge the real people behind this.
* The DC, Mr. Subodh Yadav. He definitely is the man who can make or break this endeavour. So far, his support and execution have been irrefutable.
* There were a lot of judges present, and the numbers in which they turned up was definitely important, but one person deserves special mention. Justice Subhash Adi! His drive and commitment and the way he has managed to rally his peers around this cause has been really uplifting.
* Our sponsors, Yahoo!. The PR team from Yahoo! has backed us fantastically.
* Mr.Vivek Reddy and Mr. Arun, advocates who managed to provide everybody breakfast and lunch. Their energy is most inspiring. They have an ambitious target in their ongoing afforestation efforts at Nandi, and we hope we can support them in that campaign the way they have supported us in these last few days.
* Mr. Mahantesh Murgod, Special officer Nandi Hills and Mr.Rajashekar, DFO, Chikkaballapur.
* Roopa Sankaran from Clean & Green, who provided almost all the information we needed.
* All our volunteers. My hope is that we keep this association going and shoot for bigger things.
Some media mentions