Swacch Bharat will remain an aerial apparition, if nothing is done about the garbage lying on the ground. Anirudh Dutt says don’t leave it to / blame others – let’s be the change we desire. Y Maheswar Reddy caught up with this unique person to understand his motivation and methodology.
Those tasked with a Swacch Bharat are negligent at their jobs, and most people, though educated and aware refuse to do the simple things necessary to bring that concept to fruition – We all want our surroundings to be clean, but we hardly want to bend our back to keep it so. Anirudh S Dutt is different – He practices and then preaches. His is an example worth emulating.
AnirudhS Dutt embarked on a mission of keeping the city clean. It all began in 2013 when Dutt had developed a unique habit – hunting for blackspots in the city and making efforts to beautify those spots.
After conducting a survey on blackspots in the city for two months, Dutt succeeded in convincing his five friends to join hands with him. He started Let’s be the Change (LBTC) on WhatsApp. He was just 19 years old and studying engineering at Jyothi Institute of Technology off Kanakapura Road when he converted his dream into reality.
Not a bed of roses
Though Anirudh S Dutt succeeded in convincing his friends to join hands with him, it was not an easy task to convince his parents. Hailing from a middle-class family, Dutt had to struggle a lot to get a green signal from his parents while his elder sister appreciated his noble intention.
“My parents were worried about me that there is no future to my dream and nobody will respect my work. They wanted me to concentrate on my studies. After seeing the response to my work on KR Road, my parents began motivating me to do more,’’ he said.
For AnirudhS Dutt, KR Road will always remain special because it was his first Cleanathon. It’s from here he extended it to other areas of the city. “Beautifying the blackspot on KR Road was a special one because that was the first place we cleaned with trial and error method. It was a new concept and it was great to see the spot clean,” Dutt said.
After the first trial and error effort, there was no looking back for him. Till date he, along with other volunteers, have conducted 250 Cleanathons in 98 wards out of 198 wards in the city. He conducts three cleanathons every month.
“It was my childhood dream to give back something to the society. I have seen a lot of people study here, grow up, move to other countries and talk ill about my city. So, I wanted to bring about a change to show them,” he said.
Let’s be the Change
The garbage disposal management in the city has become a major cause of concern for the citizens as the city produces 3,000 to 5,000 tonnes of garbage every day. With this concern in mind, Anirudh started a weekend activity – cleaning garbage in and around the city which eventually led to the foundation of an organization “Let’s be the Change” (LBTC), which aims at mobilizing citizens to take part in cleaning their own neighborhood for cleaner and greener Bengaluru.
The LBTC is a not for profit organization. It seeks donations and organizes fund raisers to manage its logistics. Its volunteers work with local corporators and BBMP officials to build the LBTC network. Among 198 wards of the city, 94 wards have LBTC volunteers. It has collaborated with some MNCs, schools, colleges and with Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF).
The Cleaning Process
The black spots that LBTC marks to clean are either chosen by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials or are based on requests from the residents of the city. The BBMP also assigns conservancy workers to join hands with the LBTC. The BBMP not only supports our initiative but also helps us. Now me and my team meet the BBMP Commissioner to discuss how we can beautify blackspots in the city,” Dutt said.
He said LBTC volunteers identify the blackspots when they come across such spots. “We discuss about them and inform the BBMP authorities about the requirements and involve the localstoget it done,” he said.
He said the LBTC volunteersvisit schools and colleges to create awareness among the students on the importance of keeping the city clean,” he said.
LBTC not only takes care to provide the necessary equipment to protect the volunteers while cleaning garbage but also ensures that they get their mind off what they are doing – which is often dirty work – by listening to music. Vasu Dixit’s musical band played some inspiring and motivational songs to encourage the volunteers during the cleanathon.
“Vasu Dixit is a good friend of mine and when he heard about our initiative, he came forward to be a part of LBTC’s cleanathon and played music for us to encourage and entertain the tired volunteers while clearing garbage,” he said.
At present LBTC works in Bengaluru only, but it has plans to extend across Karnataka and other states soon. Most of the LBTC’s activities include more of manpower. The lack of citizens’ involvement becomes a hurdle.
“After most of the cleanathons, we connect our volunteers to the BBMP to make sure the place isn’t littered again. Though most residents are least bothered about waste, and tend not only to blame other parties but us as well, saying that young people don’t have any right to guide those who are elderly on how to keep their neighborhood clean. We can say that educating the younger bunch has a lasting impact,” he said.
The LBTC conducted a Clay Ganapathy making workshop this year during Ganesha festival.“In 2016 more than 1,000 people made their own Ganapathy idols and worshiped them. This year, we have conducted 25 workshops to encourage 2,500 people to make their own Ganapathy idols,” he adds.
Anirudh has been awarded the national ‘Yuva Chetna’ award by Youth for Seva.
“The experience with these awards has been tremendous. I have been able to reach out to more people and inspire them. Socializing with a lot of other major players in this field is a plus point,” he signs off with a smile.