Seeing us clean the ground, football players halted their game, athletes stopped in their tracks and girls practising gymnastics paused to ponder. Soon, they all came rushing towards us to join the cleanliness campaign. (Representative image)
Seeing us clean the ground, football players halted their game, athletes stopped in their tracks and girls practising gymnastics paused to ponder. Soon, they all came rushing towards us to join the cleanliness campaign. (Representative image)

Black and white gang keeps the colours of Nature alive

SPICE OF LIFE: Before I could ask about the bags, my friend said, “Today, we will operate on the ground and get rid of the litter that bugs it.”
By Dr Rajiv Sharma
PUBLISHED ON JUL 22, 2021 02:39 PM IST

A few patches of green are left in the concrete jungles that our cities have turned into. Fortunately, our part of Amritsar can boast of an open space, comprising a football field, a basketball court and a hockey ground.

School and college students, soldiers from the nearby cantonment and walkers throng the playing field every morning to exercise and train. Coaches keep a vigil on sportspersons and athletes and monitor their progress as they push them hard to better their performance.

Once the gruelling practice session is over, the players are offered juices, bananas and milk to supplement their routine diet by the local sports authorities. Players relish the energy-boosting drink after sweating it out on the field but don’t spare a thought before littering the ground with empty tetra packs of juices, plastic straws, polythene pouches of milk, shards of glass and egg shells. Though the men responsible for the ground’s upkeep do their best to maintain the area, their efforts almost always fall short of the pace with which the non-biodegradable waste keeps piling up.

Recently, a track and field tournament was held at the ground in which schools of the district participated. Once the meet was over, the ground was left littered with empty cartons, polythene bags and plastic bottles. Unable to clear the amount of garbage generated, the sweepers took the easy way out and swept the garbage to one part of the ground. With one-third of the ground under garbage cover, players and athletes chose to restrict their area of activity rather than clear the litter.

We, the morning walkers, also decided to turn a blind eye to the sorry state of affairs, until a shard of glass tore through the sports shoes and a deep wound was inflicted on the foot of my doctor friend. His wound had to be sutured and he could not come to the ground for a fortnight.

After a fortnight when he arrived, he had a bundle of black bags and surgical gloves on the carrier of his bicycle. Before I could ask about the bags, my friend said, “Today, we will operate on the ground and get rid of the litter that bugs it.” Everyone nodded and without much ado, we donned the surgical gloves, grabbed a bag each and bent down to pick up the empty bottles and plastic waste.

Seeing us clean the ground, football players halted their game, athletes stopped in their tracks and girls practising gymnastics paused to ponder. Soon, they all came rushing towards us to join the cleanliness campaign. They almost snatched the bags of trash from our hands and started collecting unwanted items from the ground.

Within minutes, the campaign started by five had transformed into a wave of 50 enthusiasts, lifting every bit of plastic, paper and glass from the ground. Within half an hour, we managed to collect 10 bags full of trash from the playing area.

The next morning when we reached the ground, the players welcomed us with a warm smile. The boxing coach applauded our efforts with a firm handshake said, “The black and white gang is the need of the hour to keep our streets, villages and cities clean and green.” Before we could comprehend the reason behind the queer name given to our group, he was quick to elaborate that black stood for the bags and white for the gloves we carried.

Since then, our black and white gang, supported by the players, devotes half an hour every Thursday to keep the colours of Mother Nature alive and vivid. rajivsharma.rs201067@gmail.com

The writer is an Amritsar-based freelance contributor

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