Every day 377 million people living in urban India generate 62 million tonnes of garbage, making us the world's third-biggest waste generator.
No wonder the waste has reached every nook and corner of the country and the green covers are no exception.
Abhishek Ashok Narvekar, a wildlife researcher from Amboli-Sawantwadi, Maharashtra, couldn't turn a blind eye to the increasing garbage dump in the surrounding jungles.
In his 16 years of wildlife research work, Abhishek would often take other enthusiasts for jungle safaris and study. It would pain him to see the green forests being transformed into a dump yard. People would want to be close to nature and spoil the ecosystem by littering the surrounding with all kinds of plastic bags, covers, bottles and whatnot.
Abhishek knew that just waiting for government agencies to do something would not work out. As a conscious citizen, he took matters into his hands and started the cleanup drive. The very first drive filled 4 bags of garbage. Inspired by his initiative, many like-minded volunteers joined the drive and took up cleaning the jungles. With every cleanliness drive, the garbage collection increased from 4 bags to 29 bags and then 1.5 tonnes. The idea of dumping the collected garbage somewhere didn't go well with Abhishek. He wanted to go for a proper waste management solution.
After the collection of garbage, the team does the segregation and packaging of waste, as per the recycling plant's recommendation. We then transported it to a common area and sent it across to different recycling plants from there.
"We operate 3-4 times a week for the cleanup drive. Minimum 6 bags of garbage collection is the target, but that day collecting 16 bags of garbage all alone was one of his best experiences of satisfaction," says Abhishek.
Although he has been in Pune city for 9 years, he has made Amboli his home for the love of nature. Seeing the impact that his team has created on jungle cleanliness, many have approached and appreciated his work.
Contributing in the smallest way possible for his village, Abhishek looks after cleaning the forest, daily checks on forest cuttings, plantations, documentation, awareness and vigilance.
Expressing his happiness, "I am a social activist because of my work, it makes me feel proud of myself," says Abhishek.
When asked about how do he ensure that there is no littering in the same area once it is clean? "We put up signboards, with creative messages which will make the crowd realise its true damage and stop them from littering. Educating everyone about the problems of pollution in any form is youngsters should work for the betterment of the environment and work hard for their surroundings, as little contribution can create wonders," says Abhishek while giving his message to the youth.
Written by: Archita Ghamande