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‘ABC’ is an example of how a humble venture of Amrita Sanjeevani at Amritapuri Campus became a nationwide project – a drive to clean the entire India to make the country a healthier and more beautiful place.
‘Clean up Drives’ have been routine at Amritapuri. Every year under the guidance of our beloved Chancellor Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi such projects used to be initiated by Amrita Sanjeevani. Every August 15 our nearby bus stands and the Karunagapally Civil Station, Government Hospital premises etc used to be cleaned up by the Sanjeevani volunteers.
The motto was to create a strong civic sense in the people so that they could independently look after and protect their own neighbourhoods to upkeep hygienic circumstances for a healthier living. Additionally, it hopes to raise the social awareness of humanity’s debt to our beautiful earth and nature.
From Aug 15th 2010 our students extended the reach of this campaign to cleaning the adjoining stretch of the national highway also and expanded it as a regular monthly activity. Amma’s encouragement breathed new life into the students and staff, when on Her 57th birthday celebration on 27th Sep 2010, Amma announced this as ‘Amala Bharatam’ Project (ABC) and Ashramites and Devotees too joined hands with the Sanjeevanite volunteers.
Amma said that she wanted the devotees to form committees to take full responsibility for cleaning their allotted localities, approximately one committee for every two kilometers. “A chain of such committees could really bring about a massive transformation,” she had said. “These committees should ensure their localities have trashcans in various places as well as sign-boards telling people not to throw trash on the roadside, not or to spit wherever they pleased etc. The waste should be collected regularly to be properly disposed of.”
18 Major Clean up drives have been organized so far. Students and staff members have been actively participating in these drives. On an average, 400 truckloads of waste used to be collected by 2000 volunteer during each drive. Truckloads of waste were segregate into recyclable and non-recyclable items; the recyclable waste is taken to the recycling centre in Amritapuri campus.
Vallikkavu, Vavvakkavu, Puthiyakavu, Karunagappally, Sasthamcotta, Oachira, Kayamkulam, Haripad, Pamba and Sabarimala.
Total road distance covered: 45 kms (on NH 47)
Total area covered in town cleanups: 30 sq.kms
Sasthamkotta fresh water lake premises
The banks of the Sasthamkotta lake – a favourite destination for tourists – was also the dumping ground for all kinds of litter comprising plastic bottles, other plastic waste and food waste. Despite supplying drinking water to the district, the lake is prone to tons of waste that lies around exposed, and often washed into it, especially during the rainy season.
Students and staff of Amritapuri campus cleaned an area covering nearly four square kilometres in and around Sasthamkotta town and the premises near a fish market, the government hospital, the KSRTC Depot, a temple and the filter house. This was in addition to the cleaning on the banks of the Sasthamkotta Lake itself.
“The earth is our divine mother,” the students and their teachers chanted in unison. “Cleanliness is equal to godliness.”
The previous day, these students, faculty and staff members had worked alongside volunteers including doctors, government officials and monks to clean nearly 75 selected spots across 14 districts in Kerala. “This was our tribute to Kerala on its 54th formation day,” noted the students.
Onam and other festival days were recommended by Amma for making a good start of the cleaning drive. We have to show the way to many people who do not realize the significance of holy festivals and waste the day watching TV etc and many others who think that celebrating means parties and getting drunk (and who make liquor shops make huge profits).
Thus, on the Onam day, when entire Kerala was celebrating the festival in their homes, a group of 160 students and 20 staff members belonging to Amrita Sanjeevani were out in the streets on this serious mission, dividing themselves into several groups, each with student and faculty coordinators and sufficient hygiene kits including gloves and cleaning material.
We all know that located in the scenic Western Ghats, surrounded by a dense jungle, the famous temple of Sabarimala in Kerala draws millions of pilgrims every year.
But, over the past years trash had accumulated in the temple premises and surroundings, prompting the Government of Kerala recently to invite volunteers from the Mata Amritanandamayi Math to help clean the holy place and restore its sanctity and purity. Over 1000 students from our campus came forward whole-heartedly to participate in this noble task.”
What they ultimately dug up and cleared was about 20 years of accumulated waste from Sabarimala and Pampa!! – shared the participating students.
Waste was cleared in thousands of bags over three days from places such as Koprakkalam, Malikappuram, Nadappanthal, Panditthavalam, Bhasmakkulam at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam. When possible, it was sorted first, to retrieve anything of value that could be recycled.
It was finally burnt in incinerators specially set up for the occasion. On the final day, girls and women helped clean the surroundings of the sacred Pampa river that flows at the base of the mountain.
Every 2 kms, bins are placed covering a total of 8 kms. Regular waste collection is done by the students twice a weak. So far, it has been carried out from Vallikkavu to Puthiyakavu.
The waste collection is done using bicycles. The sacks of waste collected from bins and brought to the recycle centre at the campus are sorted out properly and recycled. Food waste and other kitchen waste are used to make compost.