November 5, 2011
Department of Social Work, Amritapuri
Kerala is now a big heap of garbage, ran the headline of a recent newspaper report.
Written by a senior medical specialist, the report cited shocking Pollution Control Board statistics regarding the harm caused by ineffective waste management in the state.
“One million cubic meters of sewage is generated in the state’s coastal areas, of which, 30,000 cubic metres reach the surface of water bodies,” the writer noted. “The backwaters of Kochi alone receive 60 tonne of sewage from the city.”
“The pollution of water sources, foul smell, release of toxic metabolites and proliferation of vectors of communicable diseases like the aedes mosquito that spreads chikungunya and dengue fever, and rats that spread leptospirosis or ‘rat fever’ is the result.”
Students of the Department of Social Work powerfully depicted this grim reality when they chose to portray the ancient king of yore, Mahabali, as coming to visit Kerala in recent times but falling prey to these communicable diseases instead.
The multi-act play opened with a jester making some serious remarks.
“This is God’s own country; a state known for its 100% literacy and the festival of Onam that is celebrated in every home. However, this Onam, no one saw Mahabali. He was late. Do you want to know the reason he was late? See for yourself.”
As ‘King Mahabali’ entered the stage, he saw someone carelessly tossing a plastic bag with waste on the ground. When he explained that he was late this year, because he fell sick on his way to Kerala, he was told that disease was common in Kerala these days.
“Good citizens should not dump waste in open places because it leads to disease,” counselled Mahabali.
In more scenes that depicted unsanitary conditions, women were seen cleaning their surroundings, but then dirtying other places by throwing the waste over the fence of their homes. Mahabali expressed his concern at such actions.
But soon Mahabali found a reason to regain hope.
Groups of teenagers, as part of the Amala Bharatam Campaign, were participating in clean-up drives at many places. Not only that, they organized cycle rallies; the campaigners carrying placards to bring attention to other and related issues such as global warming.
Mahabali showered his blessings on these intrepid campaigners.
The play was written and directed by a faculty member of the Department of Social Work, V.S. K. Kurup.
It was performed by the MSW students in conjunction with the cycle rally organized from Kollam to Amritapuri as part of Chancellor Amma’s birthday celebrations.
Next stop for the play: Kuzhithura Fisheries High and Cheriya Azheekal Higher Secondary School.
“We want people to understand the issue of waste management and make them aware of the grim reality of today. Social intervention is very important in this case,” Kurup explained.