Kalipada Das hasn’t heard of ‘Namami Gange’, but he is a man on a mission. Das quit fishing three years ago and now earns his living by collecting plastic waste, particularly bottles, from the banks of the Ganga.
Das (48) begins his day from Beldanga’s Kalaberia. He sails from ghat to ghat rowing his own boat. His day ends either at Behrampore’s Bhagirathi Bridge or Farshdanga ghat. He docks his boat at each ghat and picks up plastic bottles strewn around. And Das, the fisherman-turned-plastic-lifter, is proud of his job. “No government or non-government organisation cares to cleanse plastic waste from Ganga. I pick up plastic bottles from various ghats of the river.”
“I start sailing my boat with other fishermen and pick up floating plastic bottles as I row along. I also stop at the ghats and collect such bottles lying around. I collect two quintals of plastic bottles in the course of a 5-6 hour day of work. I earn Rs 2,400-2,600 by selling these plastic bottles for recycling. I am not educated, but have noticed that educated people are using plastic which they throw either on the banks or into the river.”
High school teacher Sajal Bhowmik said, “Kalipada Das must be honoured to make people aware about plastic pollution.”
Murshidabad zilla sabhadhipati Mosharrof Hossein Mondal said, “On hearing Kalipada’s story, we are planning to engage more fishermen to cleanse the rivers.”
For years now, the banks of the Ganga have been encroached by several clubs, temples and shops. People throw plastic bottles, plates, cups and glasses.
Naru Gopal Mukherjee, environmental project coordinator of Behrampore municipality, said, “We have put up flexes to create awareness against plastic pollution.” Behrampore Sadar SDO-cum-administrator of Behrampore municipality, Dipanjan Mukherjee, did not respond to calls from TOI.
Source: Times of India