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Turning the tide

Helmed by a group of youngsters, a seven-beach cleanliness drive that promises to be the start of a revolution to bring back the glory days of Goa will be organised on February 23.
NT KURIOCITY gets you the details

ANNA FERNANDES | NT KURIOCITY

Hope seems to be lost as Goa, today, grapples with an endless list of woes. But the younger generations refuse to be cowed down by the circumstances and are willing to put on a good fight. Among them are Gaurav Padte, Shubham Naik, Shubham Pai Naik and Shailesh Rajput, who after deliberating on Goa’s potential decided it was time to start a revolution – starting with a cleanliness drive on February 23, 8 a.m. at Cacra beach.

“A lot of things are going wrong in Goa and we can’t sit around and wait for things to change. We have to do something.

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We blame tourists, but we ourselves are treating Goa like a commodity,” says Padte, who previously as a college student led several social initiatives under the banner of the popular Facebook troll page ‘ANM’. Along with two other youngsters he had taken up the initiative to clean up the entire east stand of the JN Stadium, Fatorda, after an ISL match in 2014 – an act that caught the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Using their social media presence and cult following to inspire, they went on to organise about 40 cleanliness drives all over Goa that witnessed active participation from hundreds of Goan youth, hunger drives for the homeless, fundraising initiatives for the destitute, and even ran an online suicide prevention helpline.

“The main idea of this revolution is to build a consciousness that this is our land – the land that we have to protect. And our slogan is ‘Make Goa Great Again’,” says Padte. Presently an English teacher at Sharada Mandir School, he believes that a clean Goa is the first step towards making Goa great again.

The initiative on Sunday will cover seven beaches in one day. “We aim at cleaning a row of beaches that lie along the stretch of the Taleigao highway.

The drive will start at Cacra beach at 8 a.m., and then make its way to the beaches at Shirdona, Odxel, Hawaii, Dona Paula, Bambolim and a step beach in between.” The group will also be setting up dustbins at the various locations, and are working on getting bio toilets installed as well.

To appeal to more youngsters, there will be music and dance as part of the drive. “I believe that if you have music playing in the background, you can get things done. We have popular Goan rapper Amit Naik from Waking Grunt performing for us. Naik is known for his socially-conscious lyrics about the things that are going wrong in Goa and how we can fix it,” says Padte, further adding that volunteers will set up speakers at the venues so that whilst cleaning people can groove to the music.

This is a start of a revolution, emphasises Padte. “It is not just a cleanliness drive; it’s a public service announcement of sorts. As Goans, united, we will discuss the way forward.” Padte also shares his worries about the decline of tourism and mining in Goa and the collapsing economy. “My vision is to turn Goa into the safe haven it once was – a safe haven not only for Goans, but anyone who visits Goa. Goa is loved not because of its malls and casinos but because of our hospitable nature and our environment. And we need to safeguard that at all costs,” he says.

In an earnest appeal to the youth to get involved in waste management, he says: “Goa is dirty and getting dirtier and we are getting comfortable with it. It’s important that we are aware of what is happening and be active in a positive manner.” Looking ahead, the group aims at spreading the practices of segregation of waste and building a social consciousness about the ideals of reuse, reduce, recycle.

“Our motto is to promote Goa as a place where one can come and find peace of mind. And this starts with having a clean environment,” says Padte, adding that that anybody who is free can participate in this event. “We have already gotten a great response online and we are looking forward to a great turnout on Sunday. Let’s make Goa great again!” he concludes.

(The seven-beach cleanliness drive on February 23 will commence at 8 a.m. at Cacra beach.)

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