Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan has earned accolades from several quarters as well as ridicule from political rivals who see it as a mere excuse for a “photo opportunity”. At the Marathi department of the Savitribai Phule Pune University here, the Abhiyaan has created some much-needed space for literary activities.
Facing an acute dearth of space, removal of scrap has freed a small room that has been immediately converted into a reading room for students. Almost half of another room, used as a classroom, was encroached by scrap. The scrap was removed and the room was reclaimed.
“Our department had only one full-fledged classroom. The demand for more space was expected to be met by the university administration after setting up a separate Marathi Bhasha Bhavan. A lot of scrap was piled up in our department. I took charge of the department in September and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan was announced shortly. We decided to make the best use of the campaign to address the issue of space in our department by disposing of scrap,” Avinash Sangolekar, head of the Marathi department, told Newsline Monday.
Students, along with teaching and non-teaching staff, removed the scrap and unwanted material from the department and their efforts went on for almost a week. “We were wondering about ways to dispose of the huge scrap, and decided to hand it over to the estates department of the university. We prepared a list of around two dozen items we collected during the cleanliness drive. It included unwanted papers and files, old cupboards, obsolete computers and a photocopy machine among other material. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan benefited our students in getting much-needed space for a reading room,” Sangolekar said.
Subtraction of the scrap, and addition of a few fans, lights, tables, and other infrastructure converted one of the newly-freed spaces into a study, it’s now a favourite reading room. The space in the existing classroom was almost doubled after removing scrap that had piled up. Anil Pawal, an MA student, said Marathi department now had a room where students could read newspapers, magazines, journals and books. “The place has become mini-Jaykar library (Jaykar library is the main library) and serves as a place for academic discussion and debates besides its main use as a study. Jaykar library is often crowded and the new space is useful for us,” he said.
Appreciating the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Nishila Talekar, another MA student, said the cleanliness drive should be effectively used by institutions to address immediate concerns. “We have formed a cleanliness committee that meets regularly and takes stock of the situation,” she said.