KOCHI: Every Kochiite has, at some point, frowned on the piles of garbage lining the cityscape. But very few of us do something about it, apart from pointing fingers at the culprits and blaming the civic authorities. But 43-year-old Dr Arun Oommen, a senior consultant neurosurgeon at VPS Lakeshore hospital, is not one to whine. His initiative, The Play Kochi Campaign, is a citizen collective that is spearheading a movement to clean Kochi’s roads.
It all began when Arun responded to a story posted by Via Kochi (@viakochi on Instagram), a city-based content creation platform, asking people what change they would like to see in the city. Of all the responses they got, the page managers were intrigued by Arun’s response. His vision was to convert the open dumping grounds into beautiful sitting areas.
“There are a lot of such spaces in Kochi that can be transformed creatively by painting the walls, adding some greenery, and a few benches. These could be clean, vibrant spaces for people to relax”, says Dr Arun.
Via Kochi extended their support to make Dr Arun’s vision a reality. They publicised the initiatives, mobilising volunteers through social media. They were able to get hold of young volunteers aged between 15 and 30.
A team of 24 people, including Via Kochi members, volunteers and Arun, kickstarted the first project of the campaign. Between March 20 and 21, the patch of land behind Udhaya Colony, Karithala, was cleaned by the team.
It was not an easy task for the team — removing posters on the wall, whitewashing, and repainting the wall.
“The 15 metre-long wall belonged to BSNL. We just had to get permission from them before starting our work. After the cleaning was done, the councillor arranged a disposal truck from the corporation to discard the waste. Honestly, it takes just a little effort to bring such initiatives to life,” said Arun. He is also planning to set up a scientific waste disposal mechanism for the colony with help from the corporation.