Bottle art by DYFI activists.
As the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the cracks in the systems of countries worldwide, Kerala’s public health system along with the ruling front, on the other hand, has bagged international acclaim. Along with the health department and state government, self-groups, political parties, local self-governments, youth and students’ organisations, women’s organisations, trade unions, non-governmental organisations, etc. have contributed to the collective efforts to tackle the virus.
The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) members, as part of their efforts to raise money for Chief Ministers’ Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF), have been busy collecting recyclable wastes from households across the state.
On May 18, DYFI launched the ‘Recycle Kerala’ campaign with an aim to raise money while cleaning the surroundings ahead of the monsoon, which is likely to arrive on June 5.
“The first part of this campaign is to collect old newspapers, plastics, scraps, electronic waste, etc. from every household. The collection drive will continue till May 28,” said AA Raheem, the state secretary of DYFI while speaking to NewsClick.
Hundreds of tonnes of waste have already been collected. Apart from old newspapers and plastic, recyclable materials like aluminum, iron, etc are also being collected. Once the collection drive is over, the waste would be accumulated at block levels and then it would be segregated. “We are connected with the local buyers too,” Raheem said. So, once the waste material is sold, the money will go to CMDRF.
There are about 26,000 DYFI units in Kerala and each group is part of this ambitious drive.
“There are people who actually want to contribute to CMDRF. But, everybody is not capable of doing so. But, through this campaign, everyone can contribute. We have even started a call centre, so that people can call and tell us if they want to be a part of this venture. Then, our members from the respective units will go and collect the material,” explained.
This collective effort to raise money for the relief activities has come in handy at a time when the central government is providing inadequate economic assistance to the state. In April, when Kerala had the highest number of COVID-19 positive cases, the Centre had allocated only Rs 157 crore to the state. On the other hand, the Opposition led by Congress and BJP in the state have been continuously campaigning against the CMDRF.
Further explaining the Recycle Kerala campaign, Raheem said, “It is an eco friendly project too. On Monday, DYFI members cleaned the Canoli canal. Such activities are the part of pre-monsoon cleaning as well,” Raheem added.
Every year, before the monsoon’s arrival, all the canals and water bodies are cleaned by the concerned government authorities. Such cleaning ensures free flow of rainwater during the monsoons. This time, DYFI members volunteered to clean water bodies including the Canoli canal.
The DYFI members are providing other services as well to raise money for the CMDRF. “For example, if somebody wants to clean their well, they can call us and we charge the market rate, which would go to the CMDRF,” explained S Satheesh, the state president of DYFI. The organisation is also involved in collecting agricultural produce of coconut, tapioca, etc and selling it in the market. DYFI hopes to raise a substantial amount for the CM’s fund with these initiatives. Every district committee has even set a target; for example, the Malappuram district committee of DYFI plans to collect three lakh coconuts.
Satheesh told NewsClick that DYFI members are also contributing their one day’s earnings to the CMDRF, apart from the other activities.
An interesting part of this campaign is called ‘Lock Art’. In this segment, many are utilising their artistic skills. Paintings, art using recyclable materials, etc have been put up for sale and the money earned will go to CMDRF.
Also read: Learning From Previous Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases