On July 17, 2017, at 7 am on a Sunday, around 30 volunteers gathered at Karve Nagar for a cleanliness drive. After several hours, 10 large bags of trash and around 200 empty liquor bottles were cleared from Karve Nagar by the Swachh Pune team. Twelve bags of garbage were also cleared from Vekal Tekdi and 25 pits were dug for the upcoming tree plantation with help of the Let’s RISE team.
Let’s RISE is an organisation looking after the welfare of children from red light areas of Pune and has actively supported the cause of Swachh Pune.
Swachh Pune has been conducting these drives every Sunday since 2014; beautifying Pune while the rest of the city sleeps.
The initiative commenced in October 2014 by Wing Commander Puneet Sharma, a veteran Indian force officer who was inspired by Modi Ji’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. He went on to invite Punekars for a cleanliness drive through Facebook.
On October 12, 2014, along with his two kids and four friends met to clean the front side of the Pune Railway Station. This marked the very first success of this endeavour.
Since then, 160 cleanliness drives have been organised till now, covering the length and breadth of the city. The group has also taken on some beautification projects in the past and you can spot their Warli art throughout the city, including RTO, the Magarpatta Flyover, and the Warje Flyover to name a few.
Besides cleanliness drives, this inspiring group also conducts drives to plant trees, and aims to create awareness about water conservation, energy conservation, air pollution and much more. What started between a small group of friends and family has today become a crucial cause; consistently marching ahead Sunday after Sunday.
Puneet refuses to take entire credit for the movement, stating that he couldn’t have done it without his volunteers and the city’s social groups, particularly Let’s RISE, IMC Pune, PTC and Diya Foundation, who have contributed immensely. He also believes that there is only so much that the government can do; citizens also have a responsibility towards the city. He hopes that these clean-up and beautification drives will at least encourage the residents of Pune to not pollute, if nothing more.
The last activity conducted on July 17 was a warm up for the colossal cleanliness drive planned on August 13. The aim for that day is to mobilise all of Pune to create a mass awareness campaign and coincide 70 events with the 70th Independence Day. Events will include cleanliness, beautification and plantation drives. Furthermore, the day also looks forward to decluttering homes and encouraging people to discard useless items.
Revealing the modus operandi, Puneet Sharma says, “We are trying multi-pronged approach to make this event a grand success. Flash mob team practices are underway to engage the audience in prominent malls. Road Shakers – a biker club, is likely to conduct city drives to promote the event. I am also grateful to the India@75 foundation, which is an initiative by Confederation of Indian Industry, and all other NGOs and volunteers for extending their support to this cause. We hope that we set a great example for our citizens as well as other cities to follow.”
More power to you guys!
Feature Image: Nishanth Jois