Neingupe Maru doesn’t complain about his work despite the long and erratic hours. The constable, instead, chose to take up another task.
For the past six days, this 28-year old employee of Nagaland Police has been voluntarily collecting garbage in Pfutsero, a block headquarter in Phek district located nearly 70km from the state capital Kohima.
The town committee of Pfutsero was dissolved in January this year — ahead of the municipal elections that weren’t held due to opposition from Naga tribes against reservation for women.
To make matters worse, the lone garbage-collecting vehicle for the town with a population of over 10,371 (2011 census) also broke down two months ago.
With large mounds of garbage at several places becoming an eyesore in Nagaland’s highest town (2,133 metres above sea level), Maru decided to take things into his own hands.
He converted his old Maruti Van into a dumper and started collecting garbage from across town, depositing the pile in the dumping site located several kilometres outside town.
“I was concerned with the large amounts of garbage getting accumulated and was worried it could lead to an outbreak of some disease,” Maru told Hindustan Times over phone from Pfutsero.
It took him 21 trips to rid the entire town of garbage on the first day. Since then, whenever Maru is not working, he takes out his van and starts cleaning his town.
“Sometimes, I clean the streets in the morning and sometimes on evenings depending on my duty hours. It takes 3-4 trips these days to clean the entire town,” he said.
Maru spends money from his own pocket to pay for petrol and the things he needs to collect garbage. He doesn’t want any monetary help, but hopes God will reward him.
“He’s doing a very commendable job. Not many of us are willing to do such work, which is considered dirty. It is a very encouraging sight to see him working,” said Kupelhi Losou, a Pfutsero resident and director of Kalos Society, a local NGO.