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Bengaluru’s youth show love for city, clean 100 garbage dumping sites

Amoolya Rajappa
26th Oct 2017
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Youth for Parivarthan calls for a cleaner city by cleaning, beautifying roadsides and corners that make for common garbage dump sites. ­­­­­

Youth for Parivarthan (YFP), is a Bengaluru based non-profit whose frequent “spot-fixing” sessions have given many filthy spaces in the city, a much needed make-over. Started in 2015, this budding organisation, powered by volunteers has already transformed more than 100 public spaces across Bengaluru.

The Mysore Bank Circle in Gandhinagar, Madav Rao Park, entrance of the Uttarahalli Lake, the flyover near Ramakrishna ashram in Basvangudi, the Diary circle underpass are just a few examples of public places that were revamped by YFP.

It all began when 23-year-old Amit Amarnath and his friend decided to revamp a children’s play area in Banashankari. Saddened by the amount of garbage dumped there, they took to cleaning the playground, painted it and made it accessible to children in the area again. “We observed how this experiment really worked. People started noticing and maintaining cleanliness. Public urination also completely stopped. This challenge was an inspiration for us to start the effort on a larger scale and that’s how we founded YFP,” says Amit who is also the President of the organisation.

From identifying ‘black spots’ (unofficial dump sites across the city) and dirtied sites that needed to be revamped on their own to now getting public requests to arrange for weekend clean-up sessions, YFP has come a long way. “When people request us for spot-fixing in their area, we first visit and check for feasibility. We also try our best to get residents to sponsor, so there is ownership in maintaining the cleanliness of the space,” shares Amit, adding they also coordinate with BBMP health inspectors and local garbage contractors in this effort.

YFP’s work is not just limited to clearing piled up garbage from black spots like now-unused bus-stops, encroached footpaths, or dirty building complexes . They tear off movie posters from certain public spaces, paint them in bright colours, beautify walls with pretty warli art, add benches, install CCTVs etc… However, spot-fixing is not an easy task because it takes an average of six hours of tedious effort from a dedicated team of volunteers.

“Initially, the team used to receive mixed responses with some happy residents appreciating our work while others passed negative comments like, ‘nothing is going to change’. That’s where our motto “stop complaining, start acting” becomes more relevant. We want to answer people through our work,” says Amit, an advocate.

Volunteers from YFP also keep a seven-day surveillance period after they clean up and redecorate a public space. “From what we have observed, if the space is maintained neatly without any garbage being dumped for seven days, it is very likely that it will remain clean forever. Hence, it’s crucial to determine people’s habits. So, we appoint a couple of residents from the neighbourhood to send us regular updates about the tidiness of the place,” Amit explains.

Once a spot is cleared of garbage and redecorated, the volunteers of YFP go door-to-door and spread the word about the newly transformed public place.

The government’s “Swacch Bharat Abhiyan”, which is also the country’s largest cleanliness drive, has majorly boosted the work of organisations like YFP. When asked if they need permission with to revamp public spaces, Amit says, “We have official permission from the prime minister of the country, we need no more,” Amit quips.

“Swachh Bharat Mission has made our work easier in many ways. People are now more aware about maintaining clean surroundings. We no longer have to explain the purpose of our work. The support from government officials has also increased,” he adds.

YFP has people of all age groups ranging from 7 to 82 helping their cause. The humble organisation which began with just four people is now head-strong with the support of 1200 volunteers.

However, it was not a smooth ride for the founders of YFP who funded their efforts by pooling in their own pocket money. “But once people started appreciating our efforts, we started getting donations. We also have a nominal membership fee of 100 rupees which makes sure our funds don’t run dry. Recently, we have also started corporate tie-ups for many events,” says Amit, adding that crowdsourcing from Bengalureans who vouch for clean localities is still their best bet.

YFP is also credited with initiating cleanliness drives in various school and college campuses across the city. The YFP team has previously collaborated with Konankunte Government School, Mount Carmel College, Kumaran’s PU College etc.

Not restricting its eco-friendly efforts to just spot fixing, YFP is also expanding its efforts to plantation drives and working with various hyper local organisations in cleaning and reviving Bengaluru’s dying lakes like Byrasandra lake and Chunchghatta lake in JP Nagar.

When I ask Amit what keeps his team going despite the laborious efforts involved, “It’s sort of an addiction I would say. Once you see the before-after transformation of a public space, you’re automatically motivated to keep it going,” he cheerfully concludes.

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