By A Mirsab, TwoCircles.net,
Pune: What would your first reaction be if you walk past a heap of garbage?
To cover your nose and mouth, right? But people with the usual reactions seldom make a change for the better: and this is what separates Saleem Mulla, a 53-year-old social worker from Pune, from the rest of us. While we would be happy to walk through the filth and hurl abuses at the municipal corporation, Mulla did something far more revolutionary: he decided to act, and solve the issue.
Mulla took lead in not only removing garbage in survey no 42, Jawaharganj Kondhwa Khurd area of Mithanagar locality of downtown Kondhwa, he also rejuvenated it into a well with fresh water which has benefited thousands of people.
“It was originally a well which was lying unused since many years due which there was a deep built up of silt in it to the ground level, making it impossible to use. I dreamed of rejuvenating it and could do it with the help of people”, Mulla says with a smile on his face.
According to Mulla, the well was functional from 1984 to 1990 and residents freely drew water from the well. In 1999, Kondhwa area was included in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits and since then well was abandoned and was used for dumping garbage, he explained.
The well acquired the shape of a garbage depot after that. Mulla later made several appeals in writing to the PMC seeking rejuvenation of the well but it fell on deaf ears.
“The PMC completely ignored my genuine request which was in the best interests of the people. The PMC did not pay any attention giving a flimsy excuse that the well came under private land,” he said.
During the last six years from 2010 to 2016, the well became a virtual dump yard and became almost a flat land. Mulla is of the view that there are dozens of vanishing well in Kondhwa which if investigated and rejuvenated can put an end to the permanent water crisis in Kondhwa.
The cleaning process began with 75 tractors full of silt unearthed from the well, with drilling hitting a depth of 45 feet. Commenting on the month-long work, Mulla says that the rejuvenation success is a testimony of people’s power through community participation which no longer is dependent government and local bodies like PMC.
“People from all communities comprising Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and other faiths have backed me in this noble work for the cause of humanity. I have been successful because of all my well wishers and it is not one man’s job. I credit the success to all the people who have helped in this arduous task,” Mulla says honouring the people who joined him in the noble work.
The project also showed that ordinary citizens are happy to contribute to a noble cause: the entire project cost Rs 3 lakh, all of which was willingly donated by the residents.
The rejuvenation work began on June 6, 2016, the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Around 8-10 persons worked on daily basis at the well. Besides, machinery was deployed for rapid culling out of silt and foul smelling garbage from the bowels of the well. The well with a natural source of fresh drinking water was ready for the benefit of people on the occasion of Eid.
Shankar Seth Prajapati, a resident of Mithanagar Kondhwa lauded the efforts of Mulla and stated that Mulla should emerge as a national icon of unity. “Saleem Bhai has taken painstaking efforts and fought against all odds to ensure that well was revived. His spirit for the cause of humanity barring religion and caste is a shining example of brotherhood and concrete work for the cause of national development,” he added.
Pradeep Babar, another Kondhwa resident said that the utility water is being supplied to the citizens free of cost and was a noble gesture. “The state should take cognizance of good and selfless work done by Saleem Mulla for Kondhwa. We offer him our full support for his work ,” he added.
The well is now supplying fresh water to area residents, winning praise for the painstaking efforts undertaken by Mulla. The water fetched from this well is carried everyday to Baitul-Uloom Madrassa in the locality that has 550 students in school, Madrassa and junior college.
Mulla who works as an event manager in the city has a passion of social activities. He is into the social services since 15 years. Although he is politically inclined towards MIM, joining politics itself is not his aspiration. He did help MIM leadership in finding volunteers in the city but he has not fully involved himself into it.
Mulla is now working for the establishment of a maternity hospital in Kondhwa as he believes most of the hospitals in city needlessly do scissoring and thereby causes huge burden on the family during delivery.
“Hospitals generally go for scissor which is not a good thing for the lady’s health. The operation fees is also huge in comparison with the normal delivery therefore I am trying to join good doctors who voluntarily want to serve the society by avoiding scissors”, says an optimistic Mulla.
(Nadeem Inamdar, a freelance public relation consultant from Pune also contributed to the story)