For the last 3 years, the ‘Leaders Group’ has been cleaning the streets of Chennai for free
In many parts of India the sight of mountains of garbage rotting on the streets is very common. A garbage sight is not just an eyesore but is the open source of spreading diseases. Those neighborhoods are not attended by the municipal bodies and interestingly the people living in such neighborhoods become used to being surrounded by waste. But J Lakshmi Narayan, a resident of Mylapore’s Veerabadran Street was always bothered with the sight of trash piling up on the streets of Chennai. J Lakshmi Narayan, who has been working in the housekeeping department at Mayor Ramanathan Hall, MRC Nagar for over a decade often took up cleaning activities like burying the corpses of street animals and birds. Even he volunteers to help out the local traffic police in busy areas like Mambalam and Koyembedu.
I was quite content with the little difference that I was making without any publicity. But the issue of the garbage-strewn streets kept gnawing at me, and I wanted to do something to change the situation, says Lakshmi Narayan.
He was struck by an idea while discussing a newspaper article which spoke of an initiative where people took up the task of cleaning dirty bathrooms in their village, with his supervisor Vinod. He discussed his idea with the folks at his workplace and almost everybody volunteered to join his crusade, and this is how ‘Leaders Group’ was born.
The team started with only 25 members; they started their cleaning activities in the premises of various schools in Triplicane. Their initiative expanded to clean the streets near hostels, public spaces, and even the premises of the government hospital. Very soon, the group started to receive calls from different institutions in the area for their services.
In collaboration with corporation workers, the team cleared over a year’s waste spread over 150 feet, which had accumulated between the blocks of the Housing Board apartments. Even though money is a constraint, the group doesn’t ask for any money for the work they render and accept whatever people give them. A keen admirer of Swami Vivekananda and APJ Abdul Kalam, Lakshmi Narayan believes that the effort to tackle the never-ending crisis of waste has to begin from one’s own home and only then can it be extended anywhere beyond.