We are a group of Ugly Indians who feel strongly about the state of visible filth in our cities. Our philosophy can be described simply as: Kaam chalu mooh bandh. Stop Talking, Start Doing. We believe in direct action, with a common-sense problem-solving approach. We do not finger-point or blame the system. We aim to make a change from within – one that sustains because everyone wants it and is comfortable with it. We believe that there is no magic wand, or silver bullet, to solve India’s civic problems. We are realists, and accept that many of India’s problems are hard to solve even if the government and public work closely together and money was freely available.” says Ugly Indian and continues “If you think like us, and want to achieve something meaningful in your immediate surroundings, write to …”
And guess what? A Non resident Bhopali, very active in social media, did. A post asking whether this kind of initiative can be taken at Bhopal appeared in a very popular Bhopal Facebook group. A business woman from Bhopal came forward and the Bhopal iClean team was formed with six volunteers in the month of December 2013. As a member recalls “The first task was cleaning a land plot in Bairagarh in January 2014. The land plot was used by nearby hospitals for dumping waste but interestingly the land owner told the group that he was quite okay with the situation! We had a big argument with a Bhopal Municipal Corporation official, who was not very supportive”. The second task was cleaning up of Moti Masjid and the vicinity. While the posters were being removed from the heritage building a lady started a ruckus, claiming the masjid to be their and nobody has the authority to do anything there! In came the previously mentioned Bhopal Municipal Corporation official from the first task and threatening the rabble rousing lady with a FIR, boosted the morale of the almost trembling handful volunteers in those initial days. From that day on, this Bhopal Municipal Corporation official has emerged as the biggest supporter of Bhopal iClean group.
The Bhopal iClean group, which operates as an anonymous facebook group like the Bangalore Ugly Indian group, has grown into big group of about one hundred and fifty plus Bhopalis comprising of students, builders, retired officers, housewives, architects, lawyers, bank officers, etc. From sixty five years old house wives to kids six year old can be spotted on Sundays cleaning up different locations in Bhopal
The funding of the brushes for painting the walls, the paint, aprons etc are financed by collecting money from the volunteers on a monthly basis. After every spot is fixed, a set of before and after picture is posted on their facebook page. Videos and pictures during the execution of the task can also be found on the page. The venue for next activity, date and time is also announced on the facebook page, as are requests from fresh volunteers.
Some criticism is heard about the group about not taking up tasks in the old Bhopal area and concentrating on highly visible and prominent spots only. The fact remains that the group cannot be everywhere, cleaning every nook and corner of the ever growing city of Bhopal. The groups aim is to inspire local residents to give some time to their immediate surroundings and clean it up.
Everyone wants a clean street. Public litter is a universal problem. A street is clean if people dont litter, or someone cleans up when they do. Everyone knows that. Its not rocket science. Thats how homes and offices are kept clean. The War on Litter will be won when people voluntarily change their littering behavior. Its not impossible.
You just have to be smart about how it is done.
Photo courtesy : iClean Bhopal Facebook page