On a Swachh mission even before PM Modi’s call

Lakshmi Narayan is not just a housekeeping staff at Mayor Ramanathan Hall, MRC Nagar, but a green crusader who, along with a group, has been cleaning the streets in namma ooru.
On a Swachh mission even before PM Modi’s call
Lakshmi Narayan (in green shirt) at a felicitation held in a city school

Chennai

Like any other metros in India, Chennai too has a grave issue that has become a major concern for the people residing in the city —   the mounting trash. Though the corporation and municipal bodies are cleaning up the streets religiously, the problem doesn’t end there. Meet Lakshmi Narayan, who has pledged to beautify the city with this team of green crusaders. 
A staff at the housekeeping department at Mayor Ramanathan Hall, MRC Nagar for over a decade, Lakshmi was always concerned about the unending garbage issue faced by Chennaiites. “Chennai is a beautiful place and it is saddening to see the city slowly becoming a dump yard. People are very careless and are least bothered about their surroundings. They think it is okay to keep the neighbourhood unclean and less concerned about the garbage crisis,” groans Lakshmi. Though he has been doing the cleaning work for many years, people started noticing it only three years ago. 
“I have no clue how people can live in an unsanitary environment for years! There might be garbage pile just in front of their house or neighbourhood for several years — and sadly, it goes unnoticed,” says Lakshmi. Lakshmi Narayan was apprehensive when he started the initiative with 25 fellow workers. “I didn’t know how to go about it in the beginning. 
Thanks to R Nataraj, Mylapore MLA. A gem of a person, he supported us immensely and even supplied us cleaning equipment.” The Mylapore resident and his team started off by cleaning various schools and government hostels around Mylapore. Later, they extended their services to public spaces and even some government hospitals across the city. What is even more endearing is that Lakshmi Narayan and his team of crusaders are doing their good work for free. Isn’t it inspiring? “We are a service-minded group and we do it out of our passion and love for the city. That said, money is a big concern for the team members. Though we are getting our monthly salary, it is sometimes difficult to manage our finances. Most of the time, I end up giving money from my pocket. Also, it has become a major worry for my family — I’ve two daughters and my wife complains about spending money instead of saving it. Nevertheless, there are some good-hearted souls who offer us money and food while cleaning their area,” he says. 
Interestingly, the team makes it a point to follow up on the places they have cleaned up. “I want Chennai makkal to stop cribbing and start working for a healthier environment. It’s high time we stopped blaming the corporation or the municipal bodies. It is the duty of every responsible citizen to take care of their surroundings. They shouldn’t consider it as a burden. If a person can step out of his or her house and clean the surroundings, it will make a huge difference,” adds Lakshmi. 
During his free time, which is very rare, he helps out the traffic police in busy areas across the city. “I love to volunteer for such activities. If I am travelling through a particular route and if I notice a traffic bottleneck, I immediately get down and offer help to the traffic police who are on duty there.” As a parting note Lakshmi says that he wishes to receive some kind of support from the concerned authorities. “It’d make our work easier and help us get a wider reach if we get the support from government authorities.”
If you want to volunteer with Lakshmi Narayan and team, call him at 8939368919.

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