Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror
Next time you litter, do not be surprised if a youth walks up to you and slaps a fine on you. And if you act tough and refuse to pay up, you might just end up doing community service. If you refuse that too, be prepared to cool your hoity-toity heels behind bars.
The BMC on Friday gave around 2,000 student volunteers the powers of a clean-up marshal. It means that they too can fine litterbugs.
Remember, you read it first in the Mirror, but Mukesh Shah, owner, Mukesh Paper Mart, Andheri (east), came to know of this initiative the hard way. He had been warned several times against dumping scrap and papers outside his shop but, on Sunday, he had to pay the price for his persistent refusal to mend his ways.
Kunal Kulkarni, in his early 20s, turned up at his shop and slapped a fine of Rs 500 for littering. “Please pay the fine,” Kunal firmly told Shah.
Initially, Mukesh refused but realised he was in big trouble when Kulkarni was joined by eight other student-volunteers who together flashed their ‘Clean-up Marshal’ badges. They were backed by security personnel who had been appointed clean-up marshals by the BMC earlier this year.
Kunal, who is a student of Kohinoor College of Hotel Management, is among around 2,000 volunteers from across the city who were on Friday appointed as clean-up marshals by the BMC, which will pay them 20 per cent of the fine amount collected by them. The civic body hopes, with this initiative, its Clean-Up Mumbai Campaign will reach every street in the city.
HOW THESE STUDENTS WERE CHOSEN
These students, who belong to K C College, H R College and Sathye College and other educational institutions across the city, are all members of World Alliance for Youth Empowerment (WAYE).
“As part of a WAYE initiative, we had been going around the city for the past two years requesting people to help keep the city clean by keeping their surroundings clean,” says Kunal.
Some time ago, they began volunteering for United Way, a third-party audit agency appointed nine months ago by the BMC to keep an eye on the Clean-Up Mumbai Campaign.
When the BMC began looking for ways to infuse fresh energy into its Clean-Up Mumbai Campaign, it decided to bring these volunteers on board. Since they already have some idea of the campaign, in one stroke the BMC increased the number of clean-up marshals from 200 to 2,200 without any special effort.
“We needed to rope in youth for this campaign, as they are the future of this city. They are highly motivated and full of enthusiasm,” says R A Rajeev, additional municipal commissioner, who is the brain behind Clean-Up Mumbai Campaign.
SHOP-KEEPERS CLEAN UP THEIR ACT
On Sunday, Kunal was part of a clean-up drive in Koldongri at Andheri (east) and fined two shop-keepers a total of Rs 1,000 for littering. For his time and efforts, he pocketed Rs 200, thanks to the 20 per cent commission the BMC offers the marshals.
“Earlier, people heard us out but not many took us seriously. But with the power to impose a fine, our work will become easier,” says Kunal.
As these young marshals cracked the whip, vendors and shop-keepers began cleaning up their act and those who failed to spot them paid the price.
A coconut vendor, Manikkam Nadar, who had dumped leftovers around his roadside stall was taken completely by surprise when he three young clean-up marshals slapped a fine on him.
“He had been given several warning earlier but paid no attention to us,” says Sonam Gurnani, an H R College student who doubles up as a clean-up marshal.
“I always keep the place clean, but got caught this time,” says Nadar.
The previous batch of clean-up marshals have welcomed the BMC’s decision.
Santosh Salvi, a security guard who is a full-time clean-up marshal, says, “These young volunteers are enthusiastic and they approach people very politely. But they are also assertive when required. With the new power to fine offenders, litterbugs will not take their words lightly.”
– Kunal Kulkarni hotel management student
– Manikkam Nadar,
– Sonam Gurnani,
H R College student