Armed with a pair of gloves, a mask for protection from COVID-19, and a strong determination to do something about the waste at the Kondapochamma Sagar reservoir, around 20 people from across the city gathered at the venue early on Sunday morning. For close to three hours they cleared bottles, pan masala packets, cigarette butts, alcohol bottles, plates, glasses and wet waste.
Within a short period of time after its inauguration, the Kondapochamma Sagar Reservoir ended up becoming a favourite weekend getaway for the people of Hyderabad. As word spread, thousands began visiting the beautifully constructed reservoir, located around 50 km away from the city. As crowds left the place with beautiful memories of the sunrise and sunset, they left behind bottles, plates and garbage from weekend picnics at the scenic location. Soon, waste was strewn all along the bund and also on the rocks leading to the water.
Waste strewn all around
K Sagarika, a law student from Christ University in Bengaluru who is currently back home in Hyderabad, was among the many who visited the new reservoir after hearing so much about it. Though the place was beautiful, she was disappointed to see all the waste strewn around it. She went home disappointed.
Once home, Sagarika discussed what she saw at the reservoir with her friend Supriya, who works for Worldview Education. Together, they decided to organize a cleaning drive. A story was put up on Instagram and soon the word spread. Around 75 people from the city reached out to them, showing interest to be part of the initiative. However, they decided to limit the number to 20 because of the pandemic.
Speaking to TNM about the cleaning drive, Sagarika said, â€śBefore we planned this initiative, we reached out to officials from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to raise concerns about the waste at the reservoir. We were told it doesnâ€™t fall under their jurisdiction. Not knowing whom to reach out to, we decided to take it up ourselves. We were able to clean around 4 km out of a total of around 15.5 kms of the bund. The main idea was to make people more aware about the problem. After all the hard work we put in, we are all now so mindful about the hard work that goes into clearing something that has been littered.â€ť
Sagarika noticed that the public also end up disposing waste carelessly because of the lack of waste bins. â€śThere is no waste management system in place and definitely not adequate security to ensure that people donâ€™t dirty the placeâ€ť, she observed.
The team had tied up with Waste Ventures India, a company dealing with segregation and recycling of waste. The gunny bags used for waste collection was provided by them, and the waste gathered by the group was also handed over to the company. They collected 75 kgs of waste from the 4 kms that they covered. This speaks volumes of the quantity of litter strewn around the reservoir.
The bags filled with waste collected from the reservoir
Speaking about the initiative, a participant from the cleaning drive said. â€śWe got a first-hand experience of what happens when we don't dispose of waste efficiently. The clean-up drive also made us realize that there are quite a few like-minded people who are ready to spend their Sunday cleaning up their city.â€ť
Many among the 20 who gathered for the cause were meeting for the first time. Some people at the reservoir, who saw the group working, came forward to lend a helping hand. Few others applauded them and some also flashed a thumbs up. While the group received appreciation and applause for their initiative from passers-by, all that they silently wished for was that people become more responsible and aware of how they dispose their waste.