Brooms in hand, face masks on, around 15,000 people cleaned main roads in the city on Sunday, in one of the biggest Swachh Bharat campaigns to have been organised in the state.
Volunteers from Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari Pratishthan, a Raigad-based organisation, participated in this state-wide clean-up drive, that they claimed took place in 77 cities covering a stretch of 4,440 km, on Sunday.
Governor C Vidyasagar Rao inaugurated the cleanliness drive at Dharavi, accompanied by Mayor Snehal Ambekar, and the Prathistan’s Appasaheb Dharmadhikari, and filmstar Makarand Anaspure, who have been appointed as brand ambassadors of the Swacch Bharat campaign in Maharashtra.
Besides main roads and by-lanes, police stations, government offices, bus stands and sea-shores were covered in this drive, said the volunteers. He added that volunteers cleaned from Dahisar and Mulund check-nakas up to South Bombay. “We took up LBS Road, Eastern Express highway and Western Express highway. We know we can’t clean Mumbai in a day, but we want more awareness. While we were cleaning the Western Express Highway, people from buses were throwing garbage out of the windows,” Rajan Karkhanis, one of the volunteers. Meanwhile, vegetable vendors who sit along the pavement in Dharavi and locals were not too excited about the drive.
“The volunteers only clean roads, which are already cleaned by BMC workers. Our gutters, nullah and small roads remain dirty. We collect vegetable wastes from the pavement every evening and deposit it in the BMC garbage collection vans across the road. Moreover, most of us are old, widowed ladies and selling vegetables along this pavement is our only source of income, but some of us had to move for some time, while this show went on,” said Shameen Banu,71, who defended occupying pavements, stating, “Didn’t our PM Modi also sell chai and been a hacker as well?” We have written to all CMs and officials to get us a market.”
Meanwhile, the conservancy workers in Dharavi were instructed to leave the roads. “All this Swachhata drive began now. We clean the roads everyday. But if people keep littering, the streets will look dirty. Anyway, such drives are good for us, as we get some break,” said Rekha Sakpal, who works with BMC on contract and earns Rs 300 a day to clean the Dharavi stretch.