KAKINADA: A 16-year-old from East Godavari district is on a mission to clean up River Godavari and educate people about the need to keep the river clean. Pujyam Uma Maheswara Shastri, who is studying in Collierville High School in the USA and a native of Ponnamanda village in Razole mandal, has been cleaning up the garbage and plastic waste for the past three months.
Uma Maheswara Shastri’s parents—Vijay Kumar and Suguna Devi—migrated to the US 15 years ago and his father settled in the US as an archaka in a temple. Though they settled in Memphis, Tennessee, the family still holds agriculture lands in Razole. Uma Maheswara Shastri is studying in a high school and his sister Uma Sri is a Class 8 student.
After coming to their native place in January this year following Covid-19 pandemic there, Uma Maheswara Shastri observed that sewage water is entering the River Godavari through the Nalla Channel near Rajamahendravaram polluting the river. He noticed that plastic and other garbage is being thrown into the river indiscriminately and unmindful of the danger, people are using the water for bathing and washing their clothes. Not just for bathing and cleaning clothes, River Godavari is a primary source of drinking water in several villages.
It was then Uma Maheswara Shastri decided to do something to clean up the river. While attending online classes, he took up the task of cleaning up garbage and plastic from the shores of River Godavari. Soon, he got the support of his parents and his sister. The garbage collected from the shores was then handed over to the panchayat staff.
“I had conducted awareness meetings with the locals of Ponnamanda, Antarvedi, Gogannamatam and Indupalli villages. People were being asked not to throw garbage into the river and also desist from taking up any activity abutting the shores of the river as it would pollute the waters,’’ he says. Uma Maheswara Shastri adds, “River Godavari is a primary source of drinking water in several villages and people should be made aware that polluting the river poses a serious health risk. People should take up the responsibility of keeping the river clean.’’