The Navagraha Temple located in Silpukhuri area of Guwahati is one of the most important religious tourist destinations in Assam. Built by Ahom King Rajeswar Singha in the late 18th century, it is devoted to Navagraha—the nine (nava) major celestial bodies (Grahas) of Hindu astronomy.
However, when a group of youngsters decided to clean up the place, they were shocked to recover a huge quantity of liquor bottles and around 500 kg of waste from the temple premises.
11 youths including three girls from different parts of the state visited the temple to undertake a cleanliness drive keeping up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for ‘Clean India’. This group of youngsters have launched their mission to clean the historical tourist destinations from September 8th, 2019 in Guwahati.
“Recovering over 500 kg of plastic waste from an important historical religious tourist spot is a matter of great concern. The temple authority seems lacking awareness and basic civic sense. They even showed their negligence to Prime Minister Modi’s appeal for a clean India,” said Rupak Medhi, an activist and civil service aspirant from Guwahati’s Patharkuwari.
The cleanliness drive is the brainchild of Rupak. “The idea is to hangout of Sundays with a purpose. In the first phase, we cleaned three tourist spots in the last three Sundays. Our drives will continue,” he added.
The group claimed to have recovered around 200 kg of plastic waste from the Basistha temple and a huge quantity of garbage including bio-medical wastes at the Deepor Beel.
Deepali Basumatary, a teacher by profession from Goreswar in Assam’s Baksa district, expressed hope that their move will inspire people to keep the environment clean, safe and secure.
“Waste management has become a menace in today’s world. Unrestrained increase in plastic waste has jeopardized the ecological balance in the world. I think, people should use minimum plastic since it is the root cause of the natural calamities and global warming,” she added.
On the other hand, the Navagraha Temple authorities blamed the lack of manpower to keep the premises clean. “We set ablaze garbage from time to time. Around six dustbins were provided by an NGO two years back. But, the monkeys broke those. Presently, we don’t have any dustbin at the temple,” said Hitesh Sarma, a member of the temple management body.
Speaking about the recovery of the liquor bottles, Sarma said, “Many youths visit the adjacent area of the temple during evening hours, consume alcohol and throw the liquor bottles in the temple premises. It is not possible to maintain a vigil round the clock.”
According to a report published by Environ, a Guwahati-based NGO promoting waste management and sustainable
Photo: Mukut Das