IAS Officer Proves Example Is Better Than Precept, Dives Into River To Pick Up Trash
- Bhakti Kothari
- Published on 13 Jan 2022, 1:00 pm IST
- 4 minutes read
- When IAS officer Swapnil Tembe saw the Simsang river in Meghalaya littered with plastic trash, he dived into the river to clean it up himself.
- He could have instructed others and waited for them to clean it up, but chose to do it himself, thereby setting an example.
- The officer wishes to sensitize people to not throw litter into rivers. Soon, he will appoint local communities and youths to raise awareness about this.
- IAS officer Swapni Tembe showing all the plastic trash floating in the river
Known as ‘the abode of clouds’, the beautiful state of Meghalaya, landlocked between Assam and Bangladesh, abounds in breathtakingly scenic mountains, lakes, and rivers coupled with a beautiful climate throughout the year. Recently, the Jal Shakti Ministry declared Meghalaya’s Umngot River as the cleanest river in India, with its crystal-clear water that gives the illusion of boats floating in the air.
However, in the same state, the Deputy Commissioner of East Garo Hills, Mr. Swapnil Tembe, came across an unpleasant sight when he witnessed several plastic bags and bottles floating around on a lake, popular for its beauty and considered a picnic spot.
What happened next? The officer explained in an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds.
LITTER ALL AROUND
Simsang River, being one of the main rivers of East Garo Hills, is a popular attraction. Locals from the region visit the place on weekends for relaxing and the area has become a sort of picnic spot for them.
A couple of days back, Mr. Tembe was on a trek to the beautiful Bandobak caves, when he crossed the river. However, he was highly disappointed when he saw the condition that the beautiful river was in.
“We saw a lot of plastic bottles and polythene packets just floating on the river. People who had visited the place during holidays had littered all over the area and into the river and it was indeed an unpleasant sight,” he told Indian Masterminds.
A CLEANING DRIVE
Mr. Tembe immediately decided to take matters into his own hands instead of waiting for people to come and clean the river. He also decided there and then to call a meeting of the local communities and the youth living around the region and sensitize them about not littering the river and areas surrounding it. But that he would do later. First, he decided to tackle the litter floating in the river.
“Meghalaya is such a beautiful region surrounded by clean rivers and mountains and it felt really bad to see the river like that. And because charity begins at home, I decided to postpone my trek for later and clean the river first,” stated the officer.
The officer and his friends immediately set to work and stepped into the river to collect each and every piece of plastic that they could find. The plastic near the shores was easier to collect but it was tricky to collect the ones floating in the middle of the river. He had to swim all the way to collect those.
“I am hoping to ignite a sense of responsibility into the younger generation to not litter the rivers and the mountains. If everyone comes together and pledges not to litter the areas, it will create a big difference,” he told Indian Masterminds.
Since there are no dustbins in the area, people throw litter into the river. The location of the region also makes it difficult to keep a dustbin there.
“The area falls between two jurisdictions and is not in the reach of municipal areas. Even if we keep a dustbin, there is no body that will go and retrieve it. It is a challenge. I just want that people to be sensible enough to take all the plastic packets and bottles back with them and throw them in municipal dustbins. We are not asking them to do away with their picnics, we just want them to not leave litter behind.”
The officer plans to raise awareness regarding the issue on a bigger scale by involving youth and local bodies. He will also put hoardings alongside the region that will make people aware of the situation. He also plans to appoint committees to look after the place and will impose fines up to Rs. 5000 on anyone who is found littering.
USING BIODEGRADABLE ITEMS
Mr. Tembe is further promoting the use of natural utensils such as banana leaves or plates and bowls made out of biodegradable stuff to be used during picnics or day-outs. These environment-friendly options will help in keeping the surroundings clean and green.
“They are readily available here and we are also promoting some entrepreneurs of the local districts who make such utensils. This will also generate employment as we can appoint local artisans to produce these,” he said.
The officer’s zeal to keep his environment clean and green became evident the moment he himself jumped into the river to clean it. He appeals to everyone to not litter and keep their surroundings clean and beautiful.
END OF THE ARTICLE