- Sidharth has installed water purifiers in 27 wards of the city
- He was felicitated by the Ministry of Environment for his work
- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan inspired Sidharth to do something
New Delhi: Sidharth Runwal, a 17-year old boy has embarked on a mission to deliver the most basic right of access to clean drinking water to the workers of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Water borne diseases, infections and chronic ailments are an integral part of Mumbai waste picker’s life. With the government aggressively focusing on sanitation and hygiene under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, municipal bodies across India are in the process of revamping their existing equipments.
A simple yet the most thoughtful idea came to Sidharth when he witnessed a few municipal workers working in unsanitary conditions without any safety equipments, “On reading several reports about conditions of garbage pickers in Mumbai, I found that an average life expectancy of a waste picker is just 40 years and the major cause is water borne diseases due to unsafe drinking water. I felt it was my duty to do something for those who make our city habitable,” he tells NDTV.
Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s Clean India mission he decided to do his bit. In 2016, he approached a ward in Bandra with a plan to install water purifiers in BMC chowkis (a place where waste pickers assemble twice- in the morning for attendance and in the evening while departing). With whelp from BMC workers he installed water purifiers in 3 wards of Bandra which provided clean water to nearly 4,000 workers and over a period of 12 months, Sidharth successfully installed 27 purifiers catering to nearly 12,000 garbage pickers.
For his tremendous efforts he was recently awarded Eco Champ Environment Crusader Award by the Bhamla Foundation on World Environment Day. “By giving away awards, we always encourage the youth to do something for the environment and our foundation members in association with the State Ministry of Environment chose Sidharth for the prestigious award,” says Asif Bhamla, President of the Foundation.
Calling this initiative as a ‘preventive measure’ against water borne diseases, Pravin Tambe, a BMC official says, What struck me most about Sidharth was that he personally visited a few labour colonies and spoke to these rag pickers. Seeing his efforts, we gave him the required permission and helped him set up purifiers in wards of Bandra, Khar and Santacruz.
It wasn’t easy to raise funds for purchasing and installing these purifiers.Being a social media active kid, he turned to it for help. “I appealed to my family, friends to provide clean drinking water by contributing their bit. I showcased the filthy conditions of waste pickers by posting pictures and videos on various social media platforms. People came forward in large numbers to help,” says the Swachh warrior.
When asked what are his future plans, he says, Once I install water purifiers in all wards of the city and provide Swachh water to 28,821 waste pickers, I plan on come up with ways that can replace manual garbage collection with automated methods.