Strolling through the chic Lokhandwala district, the statue of a safai kamgar stands out among high-end hotels and luxury boutiques catering to the latest trends. While the statue, which appeared in 2019, has seen better times and is in need of some upkeep, it reminds the bustling crowd of the people who help keep the city clean.
The safai kamgar statue, complete with cap, vest, rubber boots and broom, busy cleaning the street while standing on a pedestal, was thought up by local BJP corporal Yogiraj Dabhadkar. Since he is an animator, he first visualized the statue and then used his funds – Rs 5 lakh – to have the statue erected at the Lokhandwala complex on Kavi Ram Basakhetre road.
Speaking to The Indian Express about his idea behind the statue, Dabhadkar said it was a tribute to sweepers who help keep the city clean. “Usually people in the city wake up and go to their offices and find the city clean. It is thanks to the sweepers that the city is clean. However, they usually go unnoticed by the general public. Therefore, we have endeavored to ensure that sweepers are remembered for the tiring work they do day in and day out,” Dabhadkar said.
Adding that it is part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Dabhadkar said, “Generally across the city if you see there will be statues of idols or sports stars or certain designs. In this sense, this statue is unique because it celebrates the safai kamgars. He added that after the statue appeared, several safai kamgars in his neighborhood thanked him profusely and said that they were doing their work with much more passion as they felt encouraged.
Dabhadkar, however, agrees that the statue is currently not in the best possible condition. “During the lockdown, the fence that was built around the statue was stolen. It also needs a little maintenance. We plan to look into the problem soon and take the necessary steps for its maintenance,” he said.