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Posted at: Apr 16, 2017, 12:08 AM; last updated: Apr 16, 2017, 1:14 AM (IST)

A ‘carpet of joy’ for Goa’s happiness

Vandana Shukla in Chandigarh
Subodh Kerkar’s ‘satyagraha’ is on the lines of a protest launched by Gandhiji 100 years back. Kerkar wants Goans to rid beaches of plastic waste. His work draws inspiration from Israeli artist, Uri De Beer
Mahatma Gandhi launched the first satyagraha movement from Champaran district on April 10, 1917, in protest against the pathetic condition of farmers under unjust British laws. Inspired, a doctor-turned-artist, Subodh Kerkar, is trying to live the Gandhian way the last few years. Recently he started a protest through his art work to mark the centenary of the historic Champaran satyagraha day against what he calls the most visible ‘act of violence’ in Goa —littering of plastic. 

It’s a nightmare for the state enjoying the top position on the human development index to deal with the litter left over by milling tourists. “If Gandhi-ji were alive, he would do the same. Such plastic spread suffocates the earth,” says Kerkar whose artistic protest has created a spectacular installation: a Carpet of Joy with 1,50,000 discarded plastic bottles collected from beaches and hotels of Goa. 

His attempt began when he met an Israeli architect, Uri De Beer, well known for his multi-disciplinary art such as ‘Plastiflora,’ hailed as “works ranging between the pragmatic and spiritual.” While Plastiflora is made on a small scale, Kerkar has used large spaces of a Goan village, next to the main road, so that travelers, tourists and the locals feel curious to stop by and get a message. The vibrantly colourful distraction is a strong communication device. 

The installation has served its purpose: people who stop by to click pictures with the carpet covering the fields are asked to take an ‘anti-litter’ oath on a podium created alongside the installation. 

Kerkar says making chidren’s involvement is crucial to the project. They were a part of creation of the Carpet of Joy — from collection of bottles to the colouring and creating flowers out of the bottles. In scrap market a kilo of plastic bottles fetches up to Rs 18, collected by the poorest and street dwellers, a kilo of plastic needs about 40 bottles. Many hotels gave their litter happily for the project, more came through the spontaneous support of the Goans. 

About 1,500-litre paint was used to colour 1,50,000 bottles. To cut them into flower-like shapes, each child was given 15-20 bottles and a pair of scissors.  The local Panchayat of Sailgao circle has lent support for the art installation that will remain on display for two months. Three ministers came for its inauguration on April 10.

The methodology of creating the flower carpet was adopted from Uri De Beer’s work, by his permission. The huge plastic carpet covering the surface of a sizeable chunk of earth stands on a plastic net that spreads under the flowers; the holes on the net are fixed with the opening of the bottles. 

To create a spectacular message board with success, Goans came forward without a condition, NGOs, corporates and locals offered support to get rid of the biggest menace confronting their day-to-day life; the insensitive tourist who leaves behind plastic waste. "Tourists do not own the land here, we own it and it is our responsibility to protect it from any ecological disaster", says a Goan.

The effort to educate the people does not end with an art installation. Kerkar has given up smoking and drinks and has started taking out ‘prabhat pheris’ to help the people understand the menace of plastic. 

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