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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Crusader makes Mumbaiites come clean

A cleanliness crusader since 2010, Nikam, who is one of the 200 clean-up marshals appointed by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), is now no less than a celebrity after a commuter shot a video of him compelling an auto driver to clean up his spit.

mumbai Updated: Feb 14, 2019 08:28 IST
Megha Pol
Megha Pol
Hindustan Times
A cleanliness crusader since 2010, Nikam, who is one of the 200 clean-up marshals appointed by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), is now no less than a celebrity after a commuter shot a video of him compelling an auto driver to clean up his spit.
A cleanliness crusader since 2010, Nikam, who is one of the 200 clean-up marshals appointed by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), is now no less than a celebrity after a commuter shot a video of him compelling an auto driver to clean up his spit.(PRAFUL GANGURDE)
         

From those spitting on the road to those tossing trash out of their cars— all those who’ve been littering at the Teen Hath Naka junction in Thane in the past five months have been made to literally clean up their mess by 32-year-old clean-up marshal Narayan Nikam.

A cleanliness crusader since 2010, Nikam, who is one of the 200 clean-up marshals appointed by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), is now no less than a celebrity after a commuter shot a video of him compelling an auto driver to clean up his spit. The video, which was uploaded online, got over five lakh views in the past week.

Nikam, is unlike any other marshal — he not only fines offenders, but is also unafraid to make them pick up their wrappers and bottles or clean up their spit.

The clean-up marshal, who works from 8.30am to 5.30pm every day, says his fight started after he joined the Mumbai civic body. “I realised that though we call our country our mother, we don’t take care of it. We want sanitation workers to clean our mess. I thought this needs to change. I started stopping people from littering or spitting whenever possible,” said the Chembur resident.

According to Nikam, it is not an easy task stopping people from littering or getting them to clean up. He claims he catches more than 30 people every day for spitting on the road.

“I face lot of opposition from commuters, especially political party workers and local goons. Most people are ready to pay a fine, but don’t want to clean after spitting or littering. Few even try to clean it with their feet to avoid embarrassment. However, I ask them to wipe the mess off with their handkerchiefs or wipes.”

But now, Nikam claims he has found a way out of the mess. He has teamed up with the cops stationed at the signal to deal with unruly offenders. “I don’t give them the fine receipt and ask them to collect it from the police chowkie at the junction. The cop there then asks them to clean the mess before asking for the receipt. It is true that few people escape, but most people are forced to clean up and even accept their mistakes,” he said.

According to him, seldom do the offenders repeat their mistake. In fact, some of them even wave at him now, he said, adding some even run away to escape him.

Viral Gala, the commuter who had shot Nikam’s video and uploaded it online, said, he had seen him before at the junction a couple of times before.

The Mulund resident said he was surprised that the auto driver, instead of arguing, had smiled and shook hands with Nikam after being told off.

“Going a step ahead, Nikam makes the offenders pick up their litter or wash their stains. People who see him are motivated to keep their surroundings clean,” Gala said.

“Most marshals collect fine from litterbugs and they do face opposition from people. Most offenders even take big names to escape penalty. However, it is good to see that Nikam is doing his job against all odds. He will serve as an inspiration for other marshals and also the litterbugs,” said a TMC official, on condition of

anonymity.

First Published: Feb 14, 2019 00:47 IST