Women strive to make the Taj city clean

Women strive to make the Taj city clean
Three women residents of Agra were feeling that they had nothing to cheer about though the city is world famous for the Taj Mahal, the “Monument of Love”.

With treeless roads, lack of clean and pure drinking water, carcass left in the open, garbage dumps emanating unbearable stench, animals feeding on kitchen waste stuffed and dumped in polythene covers, household sewage flowing through open drains all over the city, Agra could hardly be called an eco-friendly town.

For many, the filth across the town was like an eyesore, but it gave a purpose to these three women. They thought if they could give back a bit to society, then purpose in life would be served.
The three decided to do something for society. And for this purpose Maninder Kaur, Rekha Hasija and Anju Dialani joined hands with the sole mission of making the city clean.

To give wings to their passion of creating a clean and green Agra, they formed  “Eco Friends Welfare Society” a few years back. They never looked back since then.

“We came together because we shared a common objective….all of us wanted to rid the city of its filth and garbage…all of us wanted to contribute our bit in this regard,” said Maninder Kaur, who was an associate professor at a college at Agra.

As the three friends set out on a mission, more joined them later. “The response of the people was incredible…we never thought that we would receive such a massive support,” said Anju Dialani, who owns a play school.

“Today our society comprises 11 executive members and 205 general members, who work tirelessly in their drive to make Agra pollution-free,” she said. The society has conducted many workshops on converting biodegradable waste into organic manure.

They were actively supported by several prominent organisations and educational institutions. “Our main objective is to check environmental degradation by planting saplings with tree guards,” says Rekha Hasija.

Besides, the society organises streetplays to create awareness among the general public on the need to rid Agra of pollution.

“The streetplays have turned out to be very effective in disseminating the message…we have been organising the streetplays to sensitise the people,” said Maninder.

Their work was recognised by the local urban body. In 2015, on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi birth anniversary, the Agra Nagar Nigam (Municipal Corporation) conferred the title “Nagar Stariya Swachh Bharat Doot” on this all-woman society for their active participation in “Swachh Bharat Mission”. 

The eco-friendly women’s organisation has also received a number of other awards for their work.  It was, however, not easy for these women to take a plunge into social activities for all of them had their own problems in life.

Maninder Kaur, who holds a PhD in commerce, is unmarried. Fond of penning poetry and putting her emotions on the canvas in the form of painting, Maninder lost her father 17 years back. “I had to look after my ailing mother for 13 years,” she said. Her mother passed away three years ago.

“Now I have only one mission…and that is to serve the Mother Earth through protecting environment…I shall continue to do my bit as long as I am alive,” Maninder, who is the president of the society, said.

For Rekha Hasija, however, social work or joining any social group was never in her “future to do list” after leaving the job as a teacher.

Rekha wonders how instinctive and spontaneous the move was, when she and her friends suddenly decided to form a group and work for  the social cause, especially to save environment.

“Having taught for many years at NCR and at Agra when I left my job I had complaints and grudges only like every commoner to see the pathetic and deplorable state of my birthplace,” she says.

“So, poor sanitary conditions and love for plants provoked me to do some work to make Agra green and clean,” she added.

Rekha, however, has a family to look after. And while carrying out her social duties she never forgets her household responsibilities. She is all praise for her husband for his support. “Without my husband's support I could not achieve this,’’ she says.

Rekha, secretary of the organisation, is an expert cook and loves to spend time in the kitchen trying different recipe. She offers cookery tips to the budding cooks besides taking academic classes.

Anju Dialani, who is also from Agra, was initially into the business graphics and lamination. “I always wanted to do something for society and the country,” she said.

Anju, who is the treasurer of the society, runs a playschool and writes poems on environment and nature.

 “I want to see Agra clean and green,” she remarked.

The three friends know very well that their task is not easy. “We know that we have a long way to go….and what we do is just like a drop in the ocean. But we are sure many more people will join us in the coming days and lend a helping hand to make the environment clean,” said Maninder.

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