August 2nd, 2017
“I do not believe in adopting the protest style of the 70’s and 80’s, when people used to approach the government offices or authorities in angry mobs, break public and government properties, etc., so, I decided to take this stand against the poor roads in the form of planting saplings”, said Ritesh Sharma, founder of NGO HeyHi.
The beginning of a green journey
On 1 August, at around 6 am, Ritesh and his team planted almost 20 saplings in potholes on Helmet Circle near Manav Mandir, a posh area in Ahmedabad. These saplings were planted in a safe area so that they are not damaged by vehicles.
Ritesh said that the water logging and potholes have become an everyday inconvenience now and we protested constructively against the same.
Potholes are a real problem and have the potential to be death traps for bikers and cyclists, and with cars, there is an issue with blow-outs to wheels.
Sharing his idea with The Logical Indian, he said, “I was travelling, and suddenly my moped got stuck in a pothole, I had a narrow escape because of my helmet. My friend got injured due to waterlogging.”
He further added, “A few days ago I read about a protest in Ukraine against poor condition of roads and decided to implement the same in my city”. He wanted to raise awareness about the issue. “If we cannot bring in a sudden change, at least a subtle change can be brought about to make people aware.”
Ritesh said that he and his team had also approached the Municipal Commissioner and City Mayor, but they turned a deaf ear to their requests. “They were giving mere empty sympathies, repetitive replies and deferring the appeals continuously.”
The RJ Malishka-BMC Controversy
A few day’s back Radio Jockey, Malishka enraged Mumbai’s municipal body with her rap video about the city’s monsoon woes. ‘Mumbai, tula BMC war bharosa nahi ka’, went viral on social media and ended up Malishka in the dock for breeding mosquitoes at her home and was she also slapped with Rs 10,000 fine by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC).
Ritesh said that this is the only negative thing about our country, where the government has full rights, but the citizens are begging for it every time. Article 19 of Indian Constitution guarantees the Freedom of Speech and Expression, so we do have the right to question or blame our government. “There should be someone to raise the voice against injustice”, he added.
The impact of his initiative
Many people, especially youngsters, approach Ritesh and his team to make similar changes. He said that people are now coming up with different and innovative ideas, and I believe that people will do good and make a change not by aggression but by peace.
“Individual effort can bring a lot of change. We just need to be innovative and courageous enough to raise our voice against wrong doings and injustice, we have to keep trying things to help people,” he said.