On visiting the river ghats of our country, you will be surprised by the massive amount of waste that is dumped every day on the banks. Due to the age-old habit of humans throwing waste into water bodies, our rivers have been poisoned. So much so that the black waters of the Yamuna river stretching in Delhi have been declared unfit for drinking and bathing.
However, 65-year-old newspaper hawker Ashok Upadhyay has taken the responsibility of cleaning the river. According to India Today, Ashok along with 100 other newspaper hawkers of Delhi have joined hands to clear the waste off the banks, meeting on the spot every last Sunday of the month for 3 hours of cleaning. The entire group is called ‘Maa Shri Yamuna Seva Samiti’.
“After the death of my mother, I was broken up from the inside. One day I realised that Yamuna Ji is also our Goddess (‘Ma’) and I must take care of it and it is our duty to clean the river. I felt that my late parents would be happy to see me serving Ma Yamuna. So I started doing the cleaning job at my level. I felt that the river, which we consider our Goddess needs to be saved”, said Ashok.
The entire waste collected from the banks is disposed on the dumpers provided by the East Delhi Municipal Corporation. Ashok revealed that all volunteers bring their own brooms and gloves and don’t take any monetary help from the government. All they need is more people to come forward and help them so that they can expand their initiative.
“It really saddens me to see the conditions of our rivers. People have mistaken our water bodies as garbage dumping areas. With the groundwater depletion in various parts of the country, keeping our rivers clean is the need of the hour and people should start taking it seriously before it is too late”, said Asha Chaubey, a member of the group.
The 22km stretch of the river from Wazirabad to Okhla, which is less than 2% of the stretch of the entire river, accounts for 76% of the pollution level. We hope this initiative changes the condition of the river for the better and inspires many such initiatives in the future!