The Goda Saviour

This is place in Nashik where kumbhmela appears in evrey 12 years

“Our forefathers left us this beautiful, everflowing stream as our river. We are leaving a gutter for our children. When your child asks you about the river Godavari and its whereabouts which he or she will only see in pictures, what will be your answer?” A question for all of us.

A picture of Mr. Chandrakishore patil

Five years ago a man was walking down the banks of the river Godavari. The festive season was at its peak. Suddenly he came across a huge chunk of garbage in some part of the river. He came down that road again, the next morning, this time with a whistle in his hand, and shooed people away from throwing waste in the river. Six years ago Godavari got her savior, Chandra Kishor Patil. 

Originally from Shegaon, one of the cleanest towns in the state, Mr. Patil is a businessman by profession but social work is his passion. “I have been carrying a whistle for a long time, whenever I see a traffic jam, I help the police and the vehicles find their way,” said Mr. Patil.

“It is no rocket science to understand that throwing waste in the river will do us bad in the long term. Only if people understand this much, can we do our city a great service”. He continued.

What happened 5 years ago, that he suddenly felt the need to do this? “Although this has been happening for decades, it struck me then that this activity of throwing waste in the open had become unregulated and it needed to stop”.He was utterly surprised at the sheer carelessness and the complete blind eye which the authorities had turned towards this issue as well.

Since then it has become Mr. Patil’s hobby to go out on the bridge and keep an eye out. When he sees someone throwing waste in the river, he approaches them directly and suggests they do otherwise. But not everyone will take him seriously, right? Many mock him and sometimes even abuse him.

“Does this river belong to your father?”, “Who are you to tell us?” are some of the most common reactions of the people. “I do get angry but there is no point in showing anger to these people. No matter how much they abuse me, in the end, I make sure the waste doesn’t fall in the river.” 

This work hasn’t gone unnoticed though. It took 5 years of toiling hard for the country to know about this. “Once I was doing my usual Dussehra activity and Shweta ma’am (IFS Shweta Boddu) saw me do this. After inquiring and having a good talk with me, she went back and tweeted. The tweet went viral and since then all the attention has been surreal”. Mr. Patil is soon to feature in PM Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ program.

All this attention can play with one’s mind. The overnight limelight can make a commoner lose focus, but it happened the other way round in Mr. Patil’s case. “All the national and international acknowledgment pumped me and pushed me to try even harder. It serves as an example that small things done well do get noticed, but consistency is the key” he said.

The most common excuse people give while throwing waste in the river is the irregularity of the rag-picking vehicle. In such cases, Patil personally contacts the required authorities and makes sure that the same person doesn’t have to throw that waste in the open . 

Many people during the puja festival bring a huge bag of all the ‘holy waste’ to be thrown in the ‘holy waters’. Mr. Patil carries a couple of bottles with him, when they say this, he offers them a sip of the unfiltered river water. “It’s dirty.” they say, “but it’s holy.” Patil counters.

This is not the only social activity Patil has been involved in. Serving idlis and a cup of tea to the policemen and women during COVID-19 lockdown was one of his daily chores.

“They work day and night with very little acknowledgement  from us common folks. Such small deeds bring a smile worth million dollars on their face and invaluable joy in my heart.

Mr. Patil is planning to start a more structured city-wide campaign. A campaign which will involve cleaning at least two bridges a month. The new year’s eve will kick start the movement. 

“I look up to cities that have come up with innovative techniques to ensure clean rivers and waste management programs. Indore is one of them, the beauty of the bridges is testament to the fact that if done well, we can ensure clean rivers or at least clean bridges.” 

Mr. Patil has been studying many such cities and attempting to pitch them to the local businesses for sponsorships. “There is very little help that we need.” Says Patil.

Not all are as concerned about rivers and their surroundings as Chandra Kishor Patil. “People who work for the environment are the real noble ones, we need 4-5 such people in society,” said Mr. Kamble (name changed). 

When asked if he has come across anyone throwing waste in the open, he says “I see it very often, but due to my busy schedule I cannot stop them.” 

What is it that Mr. Patil expects from the younger generation? “You have tremendous energy and a very strong will, only if directed well, the youth can bring some difference,” said he, with a hopeful glimmer in his eyes.

“Our forefathers left us this beautiful, everflowing stream as our river. We are leaving a gutter for our children. When your child asks you about the river Godavari and its whereabouts which he or she will only see in pictures, what will be your answer?” A question for all of us.

Mr Patil hopes that locals do not become bystanders when they see people littering the locality. He strongly urges people to not be silent because it is awkward.

Anuj Rayate

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