Mumbai students clean up in more ways than one

On several occasions over the last few years, I've wished I had the power to fine people. I've Cleanup
particularly wanted to fine parents who don't bother to buckle their children into car seats, who put them at needless risk. I'd slap them with such a hefty fine, they'd have to take their unopened Miller Lites to a pawn shop.

I've also wanted to fine people who make too much noise when I'm trying to sleep. If I only had that power, there'd be not a single penny in my children's piggy bank.

If I lived in Mumbai, I'd love to do what about 2,000 student volunteers are doing — fining people for littering. They've been deputized as clean-up marshals and — here's the best part — they get to pocket 20 percent of the fines they collect. What a … well … fine job.

Mukesh Shah, owner, Mukesh Paper Mart, Andheri (east),
came to know of this initiative the hard way. He had been warned
several times against dumping scrap and papers outside his shop but, on
Sunday, he had to pay the price for his persistent refusal to mend his

Kunal Kulkarni, in his early 20s, turned up at his shop
and slapped a fine of Rs 500 for littering. "Please pay the fine,"
Kunal firmly told Shah.

Initially, Mukesh refused but realised
he was in big trouble when Kulkarni was joined by eight other
student-volunteers who together flashed their 'Clean-up Marshal'
badges. They were backed by security personnel who had been
appointed clean-up marshals by the BMC earlier this year. [Link]

Wow, they collect the fine on the spot. What an efficient program! Mukesh Shah will think twice about dumping scrap and papers outside his shop. He'll have to find another place to dump them.

A coconut vendor named Manikkam Nadar was fined for dumping "leftovers" around his stall and, along with Shah, got his photo in the Mumbai Mirror, with his head circled in red. I love this quote from him: "I always keep the place clean, but got caught this time." What an unlucky guy — the one time he neglected to clean up, the darn marshals showed up.

"We needed to rope in youth for this campaign, as they
are the future of this city. They are highly motivated and full of
enthusiasm," says R A Rajeev, additional municipal commissioner, who is
the brain behind Clean-Up Mumbai Campaign.

Yeah, I'd be highly motivated and full of enthusiasm too — if I got to keep 20 percent. But seriously, it sounds like a great way to beautify the city, keep the students occupied and give a little support to whoever sells red ink to the Mumbai Mirror.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. hi this is kunal kulkarni…..ur sight sight is really good…

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