- MAD MOIDEKARS? NOT
MAD MOIDEKARS? NOT
Not all Superheroes wear capes. Some of them don rubber gloves and go around cleaning the mess that others leave behind, working stealthily through chucked garbage, under a sweltering sun, determined to keep their villages clean, despite it being a thankless job. Hailing from Moira, this team of anonymous workers are often referred to as ‘mad’ Moidekars, but they prove that they are anything but mad in putting to practice what they preach and setting an example by getting things done, on their own.
Deepa George meets up with this delightful bunch and comes away hopeful
f you pass by the winding streets of Moira and Aldona on any given Sunday, don’t be surprised to see rows of black garbage bags forming a neat pile and a motley group of unassuming youngsters with their backs to the road working tirelessly on a hot afternoon. You wonder why they’d put themselves through this ordeal and at the same time marvel at how wonderful these streets look, thanks to their hard work. One often hears and participates in the usual lamenting of Goa gone lame on several fronts, especially with respect to the garbage issue with visible mounds of garbage creating an eyesore in otherwise picturesque village roads. Other than armchair criticism and willful indignation against government apathy, most of us shake our heads and move on.
Guarding their anonymity, one of the superheroes says, “We are not doing this for publicity but are genuinely concerned about our villages. We are a group of childhood friends who studied together at St. Xavier’s School, Moira and often meet near the Corjeum bridge. The amount of garbage - beer bottles and other plastic waste under the bridge really saddened us.” Deciding to literally get their hands dirty, the group started with cleaning up this space. He adds, “We have a WhatsApp group of 18 people and we are trying to extend this to other villages through our peer groups. Since we are all working, it gets tough to do this on all Sundays so we’ve decided to undertake our clean ups once a month, making it easier for our group to stay committed.”
Is this yet another of those mad Moidekar myths that seem to abound? One of them is quick to interject, “While we have received a lot of appreciation and support, we have also had to deal with mockery especially with comments like, “Moidekars sarke pishe zale.” (Moira people have truly gone mad). If we are mad and yet can do something constructive, then we appeal to all those who are not, to come up with better solutions and let’s solve this issue.”
While their efforts are laudable, it is also common knowledge that in general our civic sense is deplorable. Moreover, it doesn’t take too long for the same filth to re-emerge like moss on a moist surface. One of them responds, “It is disheartening to see the paths that we clean up, get trashed again after all the hard work we put in. Last Sunday, we cleaned the Moira-Bastora road and within two days, the plastic bottles and garbage dump was back.” While the blame game continues with locals blaming ‘outsiders’ for this mess; this team sets the record straight. “We can’t put the blame on tourists or outsiders. Certain places are absolute local hangouts and there’s so much garbage. Locals visit scenic spots, have a good time and leave their garbage behind. People need to be aware that they have to clear their mess. Have fun but take your garbage with you or at least have the awareness to keep it all in a bag. We, Goans and all Indians are responsible for this mess.”
While we can blame ourselves, what is also lacking is the presence of garbage bins at regular intervals. The local MLAs and municipal authorities need to wake up to this fact. As one of the team members’ points out, “Apparently, cameras were placed in Tivim, which were broken by miscreants. So, in India we have to deal with unique issues but if there’s a will, it can be tackled. We now want to solicit the help of our local MLA, Glen Ticlo and see what best we can do with the panchayats.”
Cecil Pinto, an Aldonkar - the creator and manager of a buzzing and interactive community page on social media, ‘Aldona Matters’ was the first to commend the efforts of this group. His post also brought in offers of donations from other well wishers. Says Pinto, “The Trash challenge has been taken up by many groups, but what makes this group unique is that they remain anonymous and when offered pizza treats and incentives, they refuse and would rather use the money to buy more gloves, garbage bags etc. This places them truly in the ‘superheroes’ league.”
While appreciation has been the most common response, some have also offered a contrarian long term view. As Savio Figueiredo, another Aldona resident aptly commented, “These efforts only serve as band aids to the garbage problem. While I don’t disparage this initiative, there is no solution to the garbage issue other than segregation at source, regular collection and scientific disposal. While segregation is what citizens need to do, the collection is the duty of the panchayat/ municipality and disposal that of the State government.”
The onus of keeping our roads and culverts clean cannot lie in the hands of lay persons who will at some point lose their enthusiasm and zeal. This first step as a citizen’s movement has brought awareness and raised pertinent questions. It is now imperative that local bodies act in addressing this issue by installing garbage bins, ensuring collection and more importantly penalizing those who continue to trash. The idea of ‘Swachh’’ Bharat may be a more cumbersome process but the vision of retaining a ‘sobit’ Goa is up to each one of us. These young millennials have made an onerous start.