FOR the past three years, Pune-based IT professional Sathya Natarajan has participated in various cleanliness drives carried out by a volunteer group. For a long time, he wanted to do something for the historical Mastani Lake, which, he says, was in a sad state, filled with plastic waste and other garbage. With World Environment Day approaching, he decided against waiting any further and contacted other like-minded people to join him in cleaning the river which he planned to do on June 2. However, given that it was a working day for all of them, Natarajan set out to clean the lake single-handedly. He worked non-stop for at least four hours and removed as much as 100 kg of plastic waste from the lake.
“I stay in Phursungi. The cleanliness drives in which I have participated till now were carried out in other parts of the city and not in the area where I stay. With the World Environment Day around the corner, I thought why not do something near my area and start with the Mastani Lake,” said 43-year-old Natarajan, who reached the Lake on his motorbike at 9 in the morning on Friday and worked till 1 pm. In the span of four hours, he says, he could clean half of the 20-acre lake.
Surrounded by hills, the lake, also known as Mastani Talav, is situated on the way to Saswad from Pune and can be seen from the Dive Ghat.
According to historians, the lake was built by Peshwa Bajirao to address the water shortage in the village Wadaki, and hence it was earlier known as Wadaki Talav.
Given that the Lake was closer to Pune, Bajirao and Mastani would reportedly visit it often and indulge in boating. Some historians also say that Mastani would travel from Mastani Mahal to the lake everyday for taking a bath.
Though the lake’s construction was started by Bajirao, it was completed in the reign of Peshwa Nanasaheb, after Bajirao’s death.
“The reason I could take out time during the day for this cause is that I work the night shifts. However, to clean the rest of the lake I need more people. I am planning to rope in some people and conduct a cleanliness drive again on Monday,” says Natarajan, adding that he had placed the plastic sacks on different sides of the lake, which he cleaned one after the other. At the end of four hours, he collected at least seven sacks of plastic waste, which mainly consisted of plastic bottles and jars in addition to polythene bags. Natarajan plans to give the
100-odd kg collected plastic waste to Rudra Environmental Solutions, which has a recycling plant that uses thermo-catalytic de-polymerization technology to convert waste plastic to fuel.
Natarajan says he did not find cleaning the lake by himself very challenging.
“Thanks to the cleanliness drives I’m involved with, I am capable of cleaning any place. The only challenging part was that I had no one to talk to and crack jokes in-between the work.”