We always hear about rivers and lakes being polluted beyond our belief and how it is hurting our environment and also leading to land encroachments and sand mining mafia laying their hands on them. But a group of ordinary lay citizens led by Prof Ajay Katragadda in Andhra Pradesh have decided that they are going to protect the river bed of Krishna river from threats both environmental and criminals and came up with a simple yet brilliant idea. They started picking plastic & broken glass trash filling the river bed, during their daily walks & runs! So was born Amaravati Walkers And Runners Association (AWARA).
On his relocation back home after 25 years in Australia & US, Prof Ajay Katragadda launched the association in 2012, conducting walks on the river bank daily starting at 5:00 am. Slowly, few Engineers, business men, senior citizens & locals saw merit in the cause and joined in. Walking on the sand is especially beneficial for senior citizens and people with muscular problems as it would not put pressure on the knees and other joints. Turning this area into a public place also helped keeping at bay the sand mining mafia and hordes of open-defecators, who once thronged this area in multitudes without check- thus preserving the river banks ecologically between the three river bridges.
But one of the greatest contributions this group is that they have made the entire area spotlessly clean by arranging cleaning drives every weekend to pick up garbage. By encouraging the members to volunteer just one hour to clean the running area and announcing prizes for top trash collectors and runners, they made sure the area they use daily is free of litter and garbage. In order to improve the quality of the land, they have also planted more than 3000 seeds & saplings of trees which are suitable for growth in sands on World Environment Day on June 5th, 2017.
In days where ground water levels are sharply decreasing, efforts of groups like AWARA are a shining example that the surface resources can also be protected if efforts coupled with innovative ideas are put into place.
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