Locals clean trash trail at Surajkund Mela venue

The 3-hour-long drive was carried out in parking, stall areas of the fair a week later

Around a hundred volunteers carried out a drive — picking up litter, mostly plastic items, — at the venue for Surajkund International Crafts Mela here on Sunday.

The 16-day-long fair, inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind, had concluded a week ago. In a three-hour-long drive under the aegis of Save Aravali Trust, a non-government organisation working towards protecting the Aravali mountain range, the participants picked up the waste left behind by visitors, stuffed it into big plastic bags to be segregated and transported to Bandhwari landfill site.

Ecogreen Energy, the agency entrusted with the collection and disposal of solid municipal waste in Gurugram and Faridabad, also contributed towards the drive.

The Trust’s founder, Jitender Bhadana, said the drive was carried out in the parking and stall areas of the fair and the volunteers were shocked to see plastic bottles, glasses, spoons, wrappers and packaging material scattered all around even a week after the event.

Donning T-shirts with “Save Aravali” written on them, gloves and masks, the volunteers lifted the waste and stuffed them into the bags. Speaking to Mr. Bhadana, who streamed the drive live on the Trust’s Facebook page, the participants said they mostly found the caps of water and carbonated drinks bottles, wrappers of different brands of chewing tobacco, broken glasses, plastic teacups and plastic spoons.

“When the companies selling the carbonated drinks, juices and water to the visitors make profits from them, they should also ensure not to leave behind heaps of garbage to be later cleaned by the people,” said a woman volunteer.

An aged man, also part of the drive, said the administration must take the responsibility to clean the venue after the event. “The entire political leadership of the state came to the event but the administration is least bothered about cleaning it. They made crores out of it, but do not interested in clearing the litter,” he said.

Another volunteer said the visitors also had the responsibility to dispose of the waste properly.

Mr. Bhadana emphasised the need for the administration to minimise the use of plastic by arranging at least drinking water at the event and made an appeal to the masses to shun disposable plastic material to save the environment.

Waste segregation

A 44-year-old teacher, Shuchita Khanna, said the trust had worked in tandem with the administration during the fair to create awareness among the visitors on waste segregation and disposal. She added that the use of plastic was also banned in the mela but the stall owners managed to sneak in plastic material.

“Since most of us are in jobs, we chose the weekend after the mela for the drive. The trust’s waste management wing head Arun Gupta even sustained a cut on his hand during the drive,” said Ms. Khanna.

Several residents from the neighbouring group housing societies and some college students playing in the ground also volunteered to help.

Seemingly excited to be part of the drive, Sunaina Chauhan Dutta, a Class X student of Lotus Valley School, said wildlife and environment issues were close to her heart and it was a very “satisfying” for her to be part of the drive.

“I got up early to reach the venue in Faridabad with my parents. When I returned and told my friends about it, they said they would accompany me for any such campaign in the future. We take so much from nature, this is one way we can pay it back,” said 15-year-old Sunaina from Gurugram.

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