Once choked with garbage, a part of the Sabarmati river is now breathing after a social activist took the problem head on

Dinesh Kumar Gautam, a journalist turned social activist, spearheaded an effort to clean out over three tonnes of garbage from the river in just two months with the help of volunteers.

Besides the Ganga and Yamuna, the Sabarmati is considered to be one of the most-polluted rivers in our country. While the governments are still busy setting up committees to tackle the issue, Dinesh Kumar Gautam, a journalist turned activist, decided to take the matter into his hands and clean up the Sabarmati river.

Flowing through Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, the river is polluted by untreated waste and effluents. Witnessing the unpleasant sight of these rivers and the degradation of its ecosystem, Gautam adopted an upstream area of the Sabarmati river through his NGO, Drishti Trust Foundation, in 2017.

The cleaning process of the Sabarmati river, source Youth Ki Awaaz

Under an initiative to clean the river, which began in October 2018, Gautam, along with around 1,000 volunteers, was able to clear three tonnes of garbage from the river.

Talking to Life Beyond Numbers Gautam said,

Every day, I work from 10 am to 5 pm with the volunteers to make the environment safe, and also sensitise people regarding waste disposal. Even my 10-year-old daughter joins me in this work.

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He added,

We focus on the upstream area of Sabarmati river (an area between twin cities Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad), and have adopted a five-km patch. The waste that flows doesn’t make it to the riverfront anymore. We have removed three tonnes of garbage from the river in just two months."

The garbage collected over throughout the drive. Source: Drishti Foundation Trust

Authorities from the local municipal corporation, irrigation department and other district authorities are also helping Gautam to run the initiative with ease. Gautam says that people have now started segregating dry and wet waste so that the local municipal corporation can collect the waste with ease.

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However, it wasn’t an easy task for Gautam to kick-start the cleanliness drive. Initially, with the army of volunteers he had gathered, he started teaching local people on the importance of cleaning the river and its ecosystem. According to Youth Ki Awaaz, Gautam joined hands with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and started urging villagers not to dispose garbage into the river.

Dinesh Kumar Gautam

Now, as the portion undertaken by Gautam has been cleaned, the ecosystem has plunged back to greenery and migratory birds have also started visiting.

Elaborating, he said,

We have proved that it is possible to restore our rivers to a pristine condition if we all come together. It is time to do that on a bigger scale.

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People across the country are not only applauding Gautam’s efforts to bring the river back to life, but for also planting 2,00,000 trees towards the conservation of local environment.

Apart from saving rivers, Gautam, through his NGO, has also taken up the cause of dental hygiene and oral cancer, for which he is organising several camps across the country.

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