All four professionals worked in different places yet got together on a regular basis to coordinate their mission of keeping Pondicherry clean for absolutely nothing but satisfaction of the highest order. Vijaya Lakshmi, Vijay Kumar, Kandha Kumaran and Kannan were very different people in everything except their motivation to be environmental stewards. Shocking is the fact that they used half of their hard-earned money for all activities concerning environmental wellness.
Thus was born…
Four years back, Kannan, the undeclared founder of KPC team was moved by a dog that choked to near death when it tried to eat chicken noodles from a carry bag. He put Facebook to the best, maximum possible use to connect with unseen people for a noble cause. 170 Sundays meant removing trash from the beach promenade of Pondicherry rock beach. There were days when only one volunteer or less than a dozen turned up. Nothing deterred the small, like-minded team from moving forward with its mission and vision, a clean Pondicherry.
Together, they flourish…
Slowly and steadily, educational institutions started to pay heed to the loud and clear voices from KPC. Students from Sri Venkateshwara Engineering College, Pondicherry University Community College, Pondicherry University, Sabari Vidyashram, Vidhya Niketan, their NSS volunteers, and tourists from India and abroad began their tryst with KPC. What began at the beach promenade spread to water bodies, abandoned agricultural lands and heritage areas, thereby watched, heard and imitated by many. That the science of good deeds is easy to teach and learn isn’t a myth is being proved over and again by KPC.
Tweeting on daily activities and their impact on society was another activity of Kannan until he knew he was read every day by none other than the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry and invited him for a meeting after which Kannan’s confidence and optimism grew by leaps and bounds though he wasn’t in want of anything from Raj Nivas at that time. But, he was able to recognize the importance of his own voice and power to restore a liveable planet. Days ahead were more fruitful given the way the municipal officers cooperated with KPC’s initiatives making them feel confident and secure in their abilities and respected for who they are.
Collaborating with like-minded people
Taking part in Raj Nivas’ Swach rallies on weekends was an added motivation. Soon, Raj Nivas interns blended so well with KPC team. Networking with like-minded stalwarts led to more volunteers and bigger crowds that made mission KPC grow bigger and better. For instance, awareness programmes for the construction of toilets in Thondamanatham village turned out to be more efficacious with Devansh Yadhav IAS leading the team. Big minds offering KPC ideas and suggestions to fight the good fight with faith and courage stands them in good stead in spite of local threats and rogueries.
KPC team also learnt that idealism and intent will turn into fearless actions with the powerful on the forefront only after LG Dr Kiran Bedi joined them in their Sunday mission for a start and then on with many other activities of KPC directly or indirectly.
Sensitising tourists who usually bring a wave of trash seems like a gargantuan task which the team is hoping to face by breaking it down to small pieces with the help of able volunteers who can also tackle unruly tourists, especially during New Year, Diwali, Christmas and other holidays.
Self-help is the best help
Removal of water hyacinths from Kanagan Lake over a period of two years was another achievement that’s worthy of a recall. To get inside hip and shoulder deep infested, polluted and foul smelling water body is no joke for humans. Be they MTS staff of municipality and PWD, professionals, students or volunteers. Contrary to beliefs, horror incidents of snake bite, injuries from medical wastes, sharp and broken bottles intensified the process of cleaning. As hard as it seems, it’s possible to make a difference and so did KPC. A boat house beautified the lake and so did trees like Peepal, Pongam, Black Plum tree, Palmyra, Neem, Bamboo, Arjuna and Malabar Neem, planted by the volunteers.
Hard work and perseverance yielding the desired results, KPC took the next plunge. Neglected Thiruvandarkoil Lake was adopted and Pondicherry witnessed its rebirth and revival, clean and beautiful dotted with palm tree saplings. KPC chose palm trees as they require no manure or fertilizer to grow and can survive droughts as well. Vijay Kumar effectively coordinated, successfully completed and vigilantly monitors the health of the lake till today.
Awards raise them up…
Raj Nivas’ ‘2019 Front Runner Award’ and a certificate of commendation from Hon’ble LG propelled KPC in their mission and then the radiant Environment Wellness Ambassador Award 2019 happened. Though it didn’t surprise them because they were beginning to believe good works are supposed to be known and encouraged, the awards made the team visible to a whole lot of people doing their bit for humanity’s wellness journey.
Seeding, the in thing
Even though, saplings required by KPC were supplied by the forest department and Aranya forest, the team equipped themselves to make their own seed balls. Exactly as they believed that all it takes is one idea and the right mix of determination and will power to effect change at the local level, the team supplied seed balls to be given away as return gifts in traditional ceremonies, school and college day celebrations and some industries have begun to buy seed balls from KPC.
Finding time to train students of Thamizh Thendral Thiruvika Government High School and Deepam Special School, Auroville is nothing less than preparing Gen Next to be determined champions of a clean earth. KPC is here to prove that no matter the hurdles, no matter the educational qualifications people of all ages can play a role to make sure they leave behind a place that is just a little better than it was when they found it.
Of all the 46 programmes KPC conducted on waste management, water conservation and wild life protection in quite a few educational institutions, they found that people responded best to water conservation strategies and activities because water scarcity affects people directly day in and day out. Through these programmes KPC also works hard to prick the conscience of people who litter in public places and educate citizens to handle those who trash, appropriately. Many instances of people confronting those who trash public places have instilled hope in KPC that their journey is worth it.
With no funding from anywhere KPC manages to carry on their plans effectively in time. Investing their hard earned money on public services in the real sense makes these young people grow richer in terms of happiness and life-satisfaction.
Behind their smiles, full throttle laughter, friendly teasing, leg pulling, fondness for good food and willingness to take risks, one could see hearts of steel and tenacious minds to create a clean and safe environment. Here’s a group of youngsters who are determined to do unlimited good works with limited resources without complaining and without trying to network for funds’ sake.
Dr Elsa Lycias Joel holds a doctorate in biotechnology, and writes for Delhi Press. She has worked with New Indian Express as sub editor. She has also authored a children’s book Perfect Endings signed by former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.