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Srinagar man inspires villagers to begin own Swachh campaign

A 46-year-old engineer of Srinagar has started a cleanliness movement of his own

dehradun Updated: Aug 04, 2018 22:11 IST
Nitika Kakkar
Nitika Kakkar
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand News
Villagers clean a street at Kandara village in Chamoli district.(HT Photo)

While the centre is spending crores of rupees on the Swachh Bharat campaign, a 46-year-old engineer of Srinagar has started a cleanliness movement of his own.

Bhavaan Singh Rawat, who wanted to do his bit to serve the nation, figured out the way in June last year.

“Every Sunday I visit Dhari Devi’s temple. The temple premises were quite dirty. I realised that there weren’t enough dustbins in the place, so people used to throw everything on the floor. I decided to change that,” Rawat said.

He gathered a few empty oil tins, cleaned them and painted them in bright colours of red, yellow and green. He then placed these in the temple premises to be used as dustbins. “Every Sunday when I go there, I empty those bins of the trash myself. The place is much cleaner now,” Rawat said.

Happy with the results of his little experiment, Rawat decided to implement it on a bigger scale. He started looking for a village where he would get people’s support and participation. “A friend told me about Kandara village in Chamoli. Here the women of the village do all the work, including building houses as well. I realised this is the perfect place to start,” he said.

“I told the villagers that always blaming the government for some or the other shortcoming does not solve anything. There are times we have to take matters in our own hands. I told them that they don’t need to spend money in order to clean their village. All it needs is a little participation,” Rawat said.

After receiving positive response from the villagers, Rawat started a cleanliness drive in Kandara on August 15 last year. He, along with the villagers, swept the village roads and cleaned the surroundings. To get the ball rolling, he got empty oil cans from the shopkeepers in the village and painted them himself. “We started these activities every first and third Sunday of the month. People came on their own, sharp at 2 pm. No one had to call anybody. We cleaned the village, made dustbins out of old tin cans and cardboard boxes and installed them at various places in the village,” he said.

After cleaning the village, the roads are sprinkled with lime. “Whenever some minister comes for visits, only then are roads of villages lined with lime. So when outsiders started asking them if it’s a special occasion, the villagers proudly said that this is how they keep their roads,” Rawat said.

Within six months, the villagers started doing these activities on their own. “Now they themselves clean their village every first and third Sunday. There are dustbins installed every 10-15 steps. The village looks like it is hosting a festival and the villagers are very proud of their work,” Rawat said.

Calling the initiative “Mera gaon, swachh gaon” (My village, clean village), Rawat extended it to another village in Chamoli. He also goes to schools and educates children about transforming their surroundings. “I hold a cardboard box in one hand and a colourfully wrapped and painted dustbin in the other. I ask the people to tell me what each of these are? Then I tell them it’s the same thing, just transformed with a little effort. Cleanliness does not require money, it requires some effort,” Rawat said.

Stating that he is not associated with any NGO, Rawat said he does not want any accolades bestowed upon him. “I don’t want any medal or any money from anyone. When villagers felicitated me with a medal and shawls, I gave the medal to a student of the village and shawls to two old ladies who would get more use of them.

“I want the government to notice these villages and reward them for their efforts by building their roads or providing them bulbs. Seeing such incentives, other villages will also follow suit. But sadly, the government officials of this area are not even aware of the villagers’ hard work,” Rawat said.

Continuing his efforts, Rawat plans to involve more schools and villages in this initiative. “I’ll do whatever I can, till the time I can,” he said.

First Published: Aug 04, 2018 22:11 IST