They have dubbed it 'municipalgiri'; a spin-off from 'Gandhigiri', where they pick up trash, as people litter.

Meet the group from Telangana trying to clean up Karimnagar dam one day at a time
news Civic Issues Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 15:12

With an aim to keep the surroundings of the Karimnagar dam in Telangana clean, a group of people from the city are indulging in what they have dubbed 'municipalgiri'; a spin-off from 'Gandhigiri', where they pick up trash littered by tourists in the area.

This came to light after a video posted by the volunteers received an outpouring of support on social media, as they expressed their anguish at civic and public apathy.

Bhavin Bhalodi, who has been cleaning the Karimnagar dam at 6 am every morning with a group of volunteers, posted a video on social media, where he pointed out that though they were cleaning the area every day, fresh trash continued to pile up. 

"We are really disappointed by the way the public has treated us," Bhavin is seen saying in the video, before the camera pans to Shiva, a volunteer who is pursuing his Class 8 from a government school, disposing a bag of trash.

Another volunteer in the video, Pranay, is seen saying that he is disheartened. "How much ever we clean, it seems futile," he says, before the video ends with Bhavin appealing to citizens not to dump trash in the area.

Watch the video below.

Speaking to TNM, 29-year-old Bhavin said that they had been cleaning the spot for around 20 days.

"I began going for a morning walk along the Karimnagar dam as I wanted a peaceful view. But when I went there, I saw that there was a lot of trash strewn around. So on the second day, I went with a cover and started picking up all the waste," he narrates.  

"There was an active Facebook group that I was a part of, and I thought that maybe I could unite them for a cause and I posted about my cleaning attempt. The third day, we were two people. By the fourth day, we were six and it has grown since then," he adds. 

Bhavin says that there were only six dustbins over the span of 3 km that the dam stretches for. Considering that the dam is a popular tourist spot, the bins are grossly insufficient. 

"We approached the Karimnagar Municipal Corporation (KMC) and they have supported us by providing bins and collecting the garbage. We collected around 20 bags on the fourth day, but by the sixth day, we filled up an entire tractor," Bhavin says.

"It was a satisfactory day for all of us, and me personally. Looking at all the volunteers, I felt that it had become a team by then. It was no longer just me," he adds. 

Soon after, the term 'municipalgiri' was coined by Surya, one of the volunteers, Bhavin says.  

"If someone litters even as we are cleaning in front of them, it is hurtful. But instead of shouting at them, we just pick it up in front of them. If they repeat the action, so do we," he says. 

The team selects an area each day to clean. Once a week, they visit the areas they have already cleaned, for a status check.

"When we went to one such spot, there was no change. All the trash was back. So we cleaned that same area on Sunday, again on Monday and again on Tuesday. I was disappointed so we decided to make a video about this," he says. 

Since then, the video has received a lot of support, with Rajya Sabha MP from the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Santosh Kumar also offering to pitch in. 

Bhavin says that while the response has been heartening, a system solution is still required.

"We are cleaning the area every day, but the maintenance, to ensure that the area remains clean, should be done by the municipal body and the authorities," he says.

"We are also not looking for volunteers who come to click selfies. We do not welcome any politics or organisations to join, unless they are coming in their capacity as individual citizens. Many times, it is educated people who are littering. Civic sense needs to be inculcated in all citizens, and that's what we're hoping for," he adds.