Doon’s student activist group Making a Difference by Being the Difference (MAD by BTD) conducted a mega cleanup drive at Tapkeshwar on Sunday, 8th May, from 6:30 am to 10:30 am. The campaign witnessed participation from hundreds of citizens and members of different organisations, as well as by the mayor Sunil Uniyal Gama. The cleanup drive was organised in collaboration with Been There Doon That, Parashakti, Waste Warriors, Pankh, DBS-NSS, Mission Clean Doon, The Humanitarian Club, Aryan Group, Sanyukt Nagrik Sangathan, Million Daughter Foundation, Agaaz, Proud Pahadi, SFI, Aarambh, Aasraa Trust, Tara Foundation, Graphic Era (department of humanities and social sciences).
MAD, since its inception in 2011, has been campaigning extensively for the rejuvenation of dying and drying streams of Doon valley. This cleanup drive aimed to draw the city’s attention to the pitiable situation of the Tamsa Nadi, the only freshwater stream remaining in Dehradun. The 300 odd volunteers, duly equipped with gloves, gumboots and tongs, were seen cleaning the premises of the temple and unhesitantly plunging into the river to pick up the contaminants like plastic, diyas, clothes, glass pieces, idols, etc.
“Before the P in pooja becomes symbolic of pollution, we need to educate ourselves on more eco-friendly ways of practising religion”, remarked Jahanavi on the abysmal state of the Tamsa river. While another volunteer commented, “Even Lord Shiva would not like to live in dirty premises…we need to take individual responsibility of respecting our natural surroundings, the God’s creations, as much as we respect the Gods.” The residents expressed their expectations from the temple authorities and governing bodies to take regulatory actions to make a sustainable impact. The mayor encouraged the youth to keep up with the activities toward the rejuvenation of rivers.
A holistic effort, this mega cleanup also aimed to bring a shift in the mindset of the residents and pilgrims.
A dedicated team had been constituted for a door-to-door awareness drive, which aimed to understand the perspective of localities on waste management, as well as to directly interact with the pilgrims who often in their bouts of superstition end up choking the river Tamsa. As the group ended its campaign with over 400 sacks of assorted garbage, they formed a human chain to transport the sacks to the temple top.
This campaign also urged the government and temple authorities to proactively undertake effective waste management strategies. Although people are being made aware of ecological, environmental and cultural values through various channels, a sustainable impact can only be brought in by government initiatives. The government needs to provide alternatives to spiritual waste management keeping in mind the interests of both the stakeholders – the worshippers and the environment. It may include creating special spaces to dump puja waste and ensuring regulatory control on the production and selling of puja material containing hazardous chemicals.
Organic waste such as flowers and leaves can be used to produce compost for the garden or recycled for making incense sticks. No doubt, the government has over the years made efforts to tackle the problem but a lot more needs to be done.
Present on the occasion was also Founder of MAD Abhijay Negi, Archie, Asmita, Shardul, Shivam, Darish, Chetna, Kartikay, Saurabh, Swati, Devyash, Shagun, Aryaman, Vandana, Atul, Arnav among other core team members.