Muck is life

 
By Vaibhav Raghunandan
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

Muck is life

-- (Credit: VAIBHAV RAGHUNANDAN)A deep breath, an upward thrust of the head and before you can blink Bali disappears into water, only his feet stick out for a brief moment. As an employee of the Mathura Municipality Bali was involved in cleaning the Yamuna during the 1980s. Out of job, he has now turned into an opportunistic "river cleaner". From early morning till noon, he keeps diving in, scooping out muck from the bottom of the river and sifting through it for coins thrown by pilgrims and tourists. He carefully collects the coins in his mouth, while casually tossing aside polythene bags, abandoned footwear, bangles and cloth towards the ghats. A couple of times in a year--mainly during the festive season--local authorities seek his services to clean the river and pay him Rs 80-100 a month.

Generations in his family have done this 'job' of cleaning the river and keeping track of its history--he claims to have several books on it. Unimpressed by the talk of a massive clean-up of the river by the government and the purpose of the Yamuna Satyagraha Yatra, he shrugs, draws a deep breath and gets back to his feet-up-in-the-air routine.

Text and Photographs
vaibhav raghunandan

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