Activists combine art with effort to help clean Yamuna
AGRA To draw the attention of the local populace towards the plight of river Yamuna, particularly the filthy ghats, members of a voluntary organisation are carrying out activities at the place on the river bank where Mahatma Gandhi once stayed for 11 days. The activists are collecting trash from the river banks and creating awareness among locals about a clean Yamuna through theatre, flute sessions and other such activities.
There are four activists from various backgrounds who spend about eight hours a day on the riverbank, collecting trash, segregating plastic and polythene from waste and engaging with the locals.
“The cleanliness campaign on the banks of river Yamuna at Gandhi Memorial began from October 1 and will continue out till October 7. The trash collected during the campaign would be made into a 12 ft artwork as part of Agra’s first public art installation,” said Neha Chaturvedi, who is leading the campaign. Neha is a city-based art activist and also co-founder of UP80 trans-disciplinary residency, which is a group of artists.
“The river is the reason that Agra is there, without a river there will be no city. But over the years the river has been ignored and overlooked. We want people to engage with the river in a positive way, hence we will not only clean it but also engage in dialogues with people from various backgrounds,” Neha said.
“This time the city celebrates a first of its kind river cleaning and public art gathering: CLTRR - Cleaning, Transforming, Reclaiming River,” Neha added.
Another activist Anel Jha who is a flautist by profession, attracts locals by playing the flute and encourages them to cooperate in cleaning the river banks.
The third activist Tahir Ahmad said, “We have gathered here for a week-long engagement with the river through music, arts, meditation, dance and river bank cleaning. We are interacting with the local people and urging them to keep the river banks clean.”
“We are getting a good response, as the children of the locality and even elders are cooperating with us. We are also getting support from the Agra Nagar Nigam, as it was quite difficult for us to clean heaps of waste lying on the river bank,” Tahir said.
He said the group wanted cooperation from the residents, NGOs and other volunteers so that Yamuna cleaning would become a mass movement.
Co-founder of the group Kaleem Ahmad said, “Over the next few days there will be various activities for the people. Anyone can contribute to this, can clean, provide food for volunteers, give cleaning gear, perform or even organize a meditation or arts session.” Yogesh Dubey