Hyderabad: The UNICEF India has honoured an activist from Telangana for his efforts to clean the Karimnagar dam. ‘Clean Karimnagar Dam’ initiative was given an award at the organisation’s sixth Water, sanitation & Hygiene Conclave conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana. The award was received by Bhavin Bhalodi on behalf of his team. 

Bhavin said he and his team have been cleaning the Sriram Sagar Project (SRSP) site of the dam. He told NewsMeter, “According to some officials with whom I spoke, SRSP doesn’t have funds to maintain this dam. Even the basic cleaning like removing the trees that damage the dam’s structure is under halt for many days.”

In October, the activist started cleaning the dam single-handedly. Noticing him, many Karimnagar citizens, including children, joined the initiative. Bhavin said, “For the first two to three weeks, my team used to clean the same place again and again. We kept the Sunday evening for that calling it ‘Repetition Sundays’. But now the public has become aware. Earlier if we picked 40 plastic bags from one area, now we pick only 20. I can say that the public has started showing us support, and there is some change in their mentality.”

The Karimnagar municipality has increased the number of dustbins after the “Clean Karimnagar Dam” gained momentum, said Bhavin. The increase in the number of dustbins could also be a reason for the decrease in the garbage, he thinks. “The areas where dustbins are placed now are 50 percent better than the areas where there are no dustbins.”

Bhavin says monkeys near the dam sometimes create a nuisance. They pull the dustbins down and litter the spot around the bins. “Some take the effort of placing the dustbin, while others just throw the waste near the dustbin and leave.”

The activist is happy that his team’s work is being recognised, but worries that the hard work will be in vain if authorities do not take steps to maintain the dam.

Bhavin also refuses to take the entire credit. “Maybe I started, or you can say I am holding the steering the team does all other work. Even if I don’t go someday, they take care of everything. This award is recognition for them. Even though we have received this award, I am not very satisfied; I will be only satisfied if the dam is cleaned completely.”

Aiswarya Sriram

Aiswarya Sriram is a budding multimedia journalist and is currently working for NewsMeter as a "Factcheck Freelancer". A graduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, Aiswarya has earlier worked with The Logical Indian and has interned with Republic TV. Aiswarya, a Tamilian who was born and brought up in Mumbai, loves to do rural reporting. She has visited Byadgi Taluk of Karnataka, to write about the issues faced by chilli factory workers there, earlier in 2019. A craft enthusiast, Aiswarya also does quilling, painting and glass work. On her off-days, she loves to read crime-thrillers and watch anime. She primarily reports on civic issues, GHMC, human-interesting features, and fact-checking video stories.

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