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Look, who's on a mission to clean Indrayani river in Alandi

Look, who's on a mission to clean Indrayani river in Alandi

Author: Manoj More
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: February 3, 2008
URL: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Look-whos-on-a-mission-to-clean-Indrayani-river-in-Alandi/268378/

Introduction: Professionals from Pimpri-Chinchwad throng the river on weekly-offs to remove the muck

Every Thursday, Indrayani river that flows through the temple town of Alandi breathes easy. Do not mistake, it's not the Alandi Municipal Council that is showing concern for the river which has earned the tag of highly polluted river in Pune. Neither are residents in Alandi coming forward to bail out the river, whose woes stem not only from official apathy but from people's beliefs as well.

Indrayani's problems are being taken care off - at least for one day - by residents in Pimpri-Chinchwad. And they are predominantly industrial workers who, on their weekly offs on Thursday, make it all the way to Alandi to remove the garbage from the river. In fact, a handful of workers who began the mission in February last year were soon joined by a cross-section of citizens. Their number has swelled to 60 and includes top company managers, prominent shopkeepers, small-time traders, engineers and even doctors from Bhosari, Dapodi, Pimple Gurav, Chinchwad, Pradhikaran, Landewadi and Pimpri.

Every Thursday the 'Clean Indrayani mission' begins at sharp 7 am under the aegis of the Indrayani Seva Sangh, an organisation which was formed after the campaign gained momentum last year. The "Indrayani lovers" then spread out on the ghats on both banks of the rivers. With brooms, they clean the ghat. And then enter the river to remove the muck either with bare hands or various cleaning equipment purchased by pooling funds.

"Every Thursday nearly two tonnes of garbage is removed from the river. We deposit it on one side of the ghat. It is collected by municipal workers," says Vitthal Vir, one of the architects of the mission. What brought them together, says Vir, is the absolutely pathetic condition of the river.

Sunil Patil, a store worker with Tata Steel, says bones and photos of gods are dumped in the river by citizens. "We remove dozens of photos of gods and buckets of bones of the deceased that are immersed by people from every part of the country." Vasant Band, a miller with an industrial units, says "Once you step into the river you realise how dirty and polluted it is. And this is same river which is worshipped by millions."

Dr Anil Kale, a general practitioner from Bhosari, believes that if proper basic amenities like toilet and drainage facilities are provided in Alandi, Indrayani's river will not get as polluted as it gets now. "However, public awareness is the key... every individual has to understand his responsibility towards the river," says Dr Kale who joined the movement in April. Vijayanand Kolapkar, a chartered accountant, says nirmalya and clothes are immersed in the river frequently.

The Sangh has planned grand celebrations on February 7. Bigwigs, including social crusader Anna Hazare, are expected to attend the function which will be held on river ghat. The workers emphasise that only awareness among citizens will help restore the glory of the river where multitudes throng to immerse ashes.

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