The Chitravathi River in Puttaparthi received plenty of rain in Sep-Oct 2019 upstream. With the newly constructed check-dam, it was a beautiful sight, in many years, to now see the river in full glory and the river-side walk and the shrine received lots of visitors. With the visibility for the river, it was also the prompt time to raise the visibility on caring for the river! The idea to do a river-cleaning seva was initiated by some local youth. MITRAz Foundation took up the idea in right earnest.
We talked to the Puttaparthi Municipal authorities and requested their support. The Commissioner promptly assured us all support. We soon initiated the mobilisation of some volunteers for the exercise. The Municipality also supplied much of the necessary equipment such as shovels, bins, buckets and gloves and also sent us some volunteers. Speaking briefly at the kick-off meeting, the Director underlined the need for the clean river to be felt as a collective responsibility of the citizens and not an individual initiative.
From 29th October to 1st November, local youth and volunteers helped in cleaning up the river bed of the plastic waste and the other junk that were dumped on the riverside. About 35 volunteers participated in the exercise. The cleaning was divided into two sessions, for about 3-4 hours in the morning and about 1-2 hours in the evening. In the first phase, the stretch starting from the Chitravathi bridge to the public water tank was covered and was extended upto the river-side shrine.
It was shocking to see the kind of waste that was put in the river-bed. Chips covers, biscuit wrappers, milk covers, construction debris, plastic articles, vegetable waste, water bottles and all other forms of plastic and non-bio-degradable waste, in addition to human waste were found throughout the stretch. The volunteers cleaned up the area to a spick and span look. The collected waste was handed over the municipality for further disposal or processing.
Among all the hard and monotonous work, there were a few heartwarming moments in the seva activities. A kid insisted to his parents that he join the river-cleaning effort and helped carry waste to the bins. Using the very material that was collected as waste at the site, the youth put together artistic posters and charts that created awareness about the avoidance of plastic and waste dumping.
The Foundation wishes this to become an ongoing activity with increased participation from the local youth. In an effort to prevent dumping and to avoid waste, it was decided to put up awareness slogans and posters along the river-side walk, with co-operation from the Municipality as well as work with other local institutions towards cleaning and minimize waste dumping.