Gurav’s efforts to clean the Indrayani river ghat in Alandi as an engineering student won him huge praise in the area. (HT PHOTO)
Gurav’s efforts to clean the Indrayani river ghat in Alandi as an engineering student won him huge praise in the area. (HT PHOTO)

Software engineer on a plogging mission to clean Pune

Initially, Gurav and his friends blamed the local body and government for all these actions, but he personally felt it was the moral duty of citizens including him to follow cleanliness norms and keep the city clean
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:20 PM IST

Vivek Gurav, a 25-year-old software engineer has taken it upon himself to clean the city through plogging initiatives.

Gurav’s efforts to clean the Indrayani river ghat in Alandi as an engineering student won him huge praise in the area.

“When I shifted to Pune for higher studies, I joined the MIT academy of engineering, Alandi in 2014. The river Indrayani was a place where I went for a daily walk with my friends in the evening. We observed people who carelessly dumped a lot of trash and plastic in the river as well as surrounding areas,” said Gurav.

Initially, Gurav and his friends blamed the local body and government for all these actions, but he personally felt it was the moral duty of citizens including him to follow cleanliness norms and keep the city clean.

He appealed to his friends to join him in cleaning the river Indrayani who initially was quite hesitant, but he took up a challenge and started the cleaning journey.

With the support of a few friends, he adopted Indrayani river for a mega clean-up mission.

“The efforts lasted for four years and we saw a behavioral change in the visitors after a span who minimized littering at the Indrayani ghat near Alandi temple. After my college days, we stopped the campaign and took up the charge to not only clean rivers but all the public spaces in the city,” Gurav said.

Vivek has been picking trash while he is on an early morning walk or jogging every day.

“I have integrated clean-up with my workout routine which has now made this a multi-tasking routine for me,” Gurav said.

“Starting my day early morning at 5-6 am daily has helped me manage my work schedule. I do the morning walk for around 45 minutes covering 3 km stretch daily. That has helped me stay fit and healthy while contributing to the Clean City mission,” he said.

Gurav added that he was called Kabadiwala, Kachrawala, rag picker initially but he has now created an identity where people call him a plogger.

In order to clear the social taboo and stigma around picking up trash, Gurav tried to involve people from different professional backgrounds when he launched a community of Ploggers - Pune Ploggers.

“Transforming the way, we pick up trash and gamification of Swachh Bharat Mission, I was able to attract more than 4,000 Ploggers across India and now people have started identifying us as Eco-Fitness warriors. Cleaning the city isn’t only the responsibility of the government, citizen participation will actually drive the mission of Swachh Bharat abhiyan and Fit India movement,” Gurav said.

More than 5,000 tonnes of waste have been collected through different campaigns. Most of the waste collected from river bodies is sent for segregation.

The recyclable waste is segregated and sent for recycling by giving up the trash to local Kabadiwalas as a source of income for them.

“That’s how they were able to involve them in the community as well.

We make Eco-bricks out of non-recyclable plastic waste; cigarette butts are being recycled as well. The glass bottles are upcycled by a team of rural women who get some extra income by selling those,” he said.

Addressing the mindset of citizens, promoting zero-littering habits, raising awareness through schools and colleges, talking to local communities and making them a part of this mission will drive the true purpose why he started this cause.

“I have been promoting a zero-waste lifestyle. I have been talking about how climate change is impacting all of us and the role of youth-led action can be the ultimate climate action,” he said.

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