October 27, 2010
Inspired by Amma’s message to strive for a clean India, students and staff of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham began a clean-up drive on Independence Day of this year. This drive continued, as they went on their fifth major mission this past Sunday. Nearly 600 students and staff were joined by residents of the ashram to clean up the premises of the Sasthamkota lake and town.
Cleanup of the lake premises gained urgency; the lake being the source of drinking water supply for most of Kollam district. Although located nearly 30 kms from the Amritapuri campus, it saw student teams that went ahead of time to scout the place and conduct a survey of the areas that needed to be cleaned.
Then, on Sunday, several clean-up groups, fully armed with rakes, brooms, shovels, baskets and sacks took on the cleaning task.
“We cleaned an area covering nearly four square kilometers in and around Sasthamkota town,” shared the students later. “Premises near a fish market, the government hospital, the KSRTC Depot, a temple and the filter house were all cleaned. This was in addition to the cleaning on the banks of the Sasthamkota lake itself.”
A favourite destination for tourists, the banks of the Sasthamkotta lake, nevertheless see a lot of litter comprising of thousands of 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 is washed into it, especially during the rainy season.
“There are no measures in place to check littering on these banks,” informed the nearby local residents.
To dispose the large volume of waste collected, a JCB and several tipper trucks were pressed into service. The Sasthamkota Tahsildar, local police officials, representatives of the Kerala Water Authority and several prominent citizens of the locality actively joined the clean-up drive; working alongside students, staff and other volunteers.
“A major challenge we faced was to bury truckloads of waste that was indiscreetly dumped on the roadsides,” noted the students. “We learned that those who were responsible for cleaning the drainage pipes in the town had deposited this waste on these roadsides. Somehow we were able to bury all the biodegradable waste.”
The volunteers also had to deal with the non-biodegradable waste. More truckloads of waste were segregated into recyclable and non-recyclable items; the recyclable waste was taken to the recycling centre in Amritapuri.
This cleanup drive that started at 9.00 am continued till 7.30 pm; ending only when the volunteers were completely satisfied that they had effectively disposed off all the waste.