CUTTACK: Every Sunday, three young men Sarthak Satapathy, Rojalin Behera and Susmita Deura meet at the Kathajodi river bank in Cuttack. But their get-together is with a purpose.
For the last five months, they have been cleaning the polluted Kathajodi of garbage and plastic waste. And within this period, they have collected almost five trucks of garbage from the river bank stretch from Devigada near Purighat to Khan Nagar.
In the last few years, not only environmentalists but also the Orissa High Court has been raising concern over pollution of the river system. “We had been thinking over the issue for a long time and after High Court took up the matter, we decided to form a group to clean the river in whatever small ways we can,” said Sarthak.
While Sarthak and Rojalin work in L&T Company in Bhubaneswar, their friend Susmita is engaged with a patholab in Cuttack. The three friends, all residents of Cuttack, decided to join hands to clean Kathajodi and roped in 45 volunteers in the city for the purpose.
“Since all of us are working in different firms, we decided to dedicate our Sundays to cleaning Kathajodi which is central to Cuttack city’s identity. We started the work in December last year,” said Sarthak who also runs a Shri Krishna Foundation for social work in Chandni Chowk.
The youths spend at least three hours cleaning the banks of the river. They said tonnes of plastic waste is thrown into the river by locals who are primarily to be blamed for pollution of the river. “Even during festivals and immersion of idols, no one bothers to clean up the waste materials that pile up on the river bed and bank at Purighat,” said Rojalin.
Last Sunday, the group had conducted a padayatra from Purighat to Khan Nagar to create awareness among people on the issue. They have also written to the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) to help them in the drive but there has been no response yet. “We have kept the collected garbage at a low lying area near the river stretch and requested the CMC to collect it but the latter has not responded,” said Rojalin.