From one of the four worst performing states in the country to now almost ODF, the most populous state in the country – Uttar Pradesh has underwent a swachh makeover. When it comes to individual efforts, Uttar Pradesh is competing should to shoulder with other states of the country. Let us now look at some of the individuals who are trying to make a difference in the society.
A little over four years ago, Anand Rai started India Rising, a small group for young people, which gathered every Sunday, without a break, to clean various neighbourhoods of Agra city in Uttar Pradesh. Now, the initiative has attracted many people under the current president Nitin Johri, and has received several accolades.
In 2007, Bareilly law professor Pradeep Kumar started a small four-page newspaper called Jagar Samachar, which changed the face of the city by undertaking a popular campaign against the use of plastics. His paper also filed a petition in court against the local municipality for dumping waste in rivers.
In 2008, Rajesh Shukla started cleaning the ghats of Varanasi alone. With a megaphone in one hand and a broom in the other, he would sweep the steps of the ancient city’s many ghats on the river Ganga. Now, he is famous among seers and tourists alike as the man who spends three hours every day cleaning holy sites.
Deepak Madhok created a movement in Varanasi in 2012 when he formed an organisation called ‘Jaago Banaras’ and sent photos of dilapidated streets and overflowing drains to local officials. But when no action was taken, he went to the Allahabad high court. The high court issued a notice to the local administration, setting things in motion.
For 18 years, Anamika Chowdhury has been working to clean the city of Allahabad and its ghats on the river Ganga. She has put together a team of more than 600 people and regularly conducts competitions to spur hygiene awareness in the city.