A group of local residents have come forward to clean up Ramnadi — a tiny river that originates in the outskirts of Pune and then finds it way to the city — as it is increasingly getting polluted. The group, comprising residents of villages located along the 17-km course of the river, has decided to follow in the footsteps of Rastrasant Gadge Maharaj, a spiritual leader from Maharashtra, in an effort to draw the attention of authorities towards the deteriorating state of the river.
Anil Pawar, a resident of Bhukum village in Mulshi taluka, the site of Ramnadi’s origin, said he and other members of the group decided to undertake the initiative after they saw garbage being dumped indiscriminately in the river. “We have been working on issues pertaining to the environment for years… we decided to involve more people in our work to clean Ramnadi, given the magnitude of the problem…,” he said. ‘
Pawar and his friends decided to hold a massive outreach drive to involve as many people as possible, and to come up with a sustainable solution to clean up the river. “Our plan was simple — involve people who are directly affected by the river in the clean-up process… they will feel responsible for the river and take care of it,” he said.
Pawar and his friends then started contacting people who lived in villages located on the river bank. They were inspired by the examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Rastrasant Gadge Maharaj, who had stressed on the need for people’s participation in cleanliness drives.
Ramnadi passes through four villages and three localities within the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits, before joining Mutha river near Baner. In 2012, the river had overflowed and wreaked havoc along its banks, damaging some houses and flooding others.
Following the floods, the Pune district collector had ordered the removal of the many encroachments near Ramnadi, and asked the irrigation department to demarcate the red and blue flood lines for the river.
On October 2 and 3, the warriors are planning to get more than 5,000 people, from all walks of life, to come together on the bank of Ramnadi to kick off the cleanliness drive.
“Such massive mobilisation of people is sure to draw the attention of the authorities,” said Pawar, adding that they would continue mobilising the public to rid the river of garbage and encroachments.