Amala Bharat Clean-up Drive (http://www.amritapuri.org/activity/social/abc) (ABCD) is a pan-India clean-up initiative of Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM). This movement was initiated during Amma’s (http://amritapuri.org) 57th birthday celebrations on 27 September 2010. Known world over as Amma, Shri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, made a clarion call to uplift India from the clutches of unhygienic civic sense. In Her birthday address, she stressed the importance of keeping our public places clean and litter-free. All of us know the extend to which our public places have been littered, and kept unclean. Most of us must have experienced the stress of not being able to answer the “nature’s call” at public places due to the ‘alarmingly unhygienic public urinals’.
ABCD is an initiative to stress on the change that our collective effort could bring about to solve this problem.
I was fortunate enough to have been part of this cleanliness drive. ABCD is a well planned program which aims at cleaning the cities, installing waste-disposal bins and then empowering the people to use them to clean up the city. Initially, ABCD was led by the students of Amritapuri Campus (Amrita University) and the Ashramites. Later, the program scaled up into the “almost-impossible” job of cleaning up the whole of Kerala.
Now, let me share my experience with ABCD. I got the opportunity to participate in ABCD on October 17. Our group of 20 students were assigned a stretch of 100m along the Karunagapally National Highway. We had each been assigned the duty to pick up recyclable and non-recyclable wastes from this stretch of NH. It was an amazing experience – there was plastic wrappers, polythene bags, bottles, pan-covers in every square inch of the soil. It was an eye-opener. I always knew that our public places are all littered and polluted, but never to this extend. We sat down on the ground and picked up every bit and piece of plastic for over an hour. But, at some point, we had to leave picking up the small bits. Because, there were places which had become a dumping ground for over 2 decades. We were helped by bulldozers to remove truck loads of waste from the road side. All the recyclable wastes were taken to the recycling plant in the Ashram. The bio-degradable wastes were dumped into three huge pits, which were later covered with soil. All of us left only after making sure the city looked cleaner. We reached back only by 7 pm.
We felt pain in all our muscles after the day long work. But, our resolve to clean the cities and public places has just begun its long journey.
As of this writing, more than 20 sq.km have been cleaned up, including places in Kerala (Karunagapally, Oachira, Sasthamkotta, Waynad, Kochin…), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore), Navi Mumbai, and the list goes on. The experiences of the volunteers during these clean-up drives have been the motivating factor for more and more students and public to join ABCD. From medical shop owners giving away free gloves, to tea shops offering free tea to a large contingent of volunteers, police offering us full support, rickshaw drivers joining us in cleaning our cities, and the list goes on endlessly – a proof of the our inherent love to the nature and our resolve to keep it clean.