Bhopal: Vijay Iyer, 34, leaves his home in Tila Jamalpura in the Old City at 8 am sharp, riding his Access 125 scooterette. Flying the national Tricolour, the two-wheeler is covered on all sides with messages urging the people to adhere to the corona protection norms. At the front is a placard reading ‘Corona-mukt Bharat Adbiyan’.
Tied to his back is an 18-litre tank full of sodium hypochlorite solution fitted with a hand-held sprayer. And near his feet is a 10-litre can of the chemical in concentrated form.
Iyer’s vehicle is fitted with a sound system, which plays a jingle on corona. “Lockdown mein ghar se baahar jaane ki mat bhool karo,/ Khatarnak hai ye bimari thoda sabse door raho”, it goes. Iyer parks his vehicle at public places and residential colonies. After playing the jingle, using a hand-held megaphone, he urges the people to wear masks, maintain social distancing and avoid leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary. He also requests all eligible persons to get vaccinated against the disease.
He also sanitises crowded public places, including mosques, temples, churches, gurudwaras, ATM kiosks, bus stands, railway stations, police stations and burial and cremation grounds. Vijay also responds to requests from individual residents to sanitise their homes.
An engineering dropout, Iyer runs a puncture shop for a living. His shop is closed now due to the lockdown in the city and he is devoting his entire day to this campaign. He returns home around 9 pm.
Iyer has been conducting this campaign since last year and, till now, besides public places, he has sanitised over 4,000 homes in 300 residential colonies. “In between the two waves, when things were normal, I used to devote less time than I do now,” Iyer told Free Press.
He spends around Rs 1,000 per day on sanitisation from his own pocket. “I’m using my savings. Also, my brother who lives in the US helps me with funds,” he says.
Iyer had contracted Covid-19 in the first round of the pandemic last year. Next, his mother and then, his father caught the disease. His mother and he recovered, but his father, Laxmi Narayan Iyer, who was a cook in the Indian army, could not be saved.
‘My tribute to Dad’
“My late father is my inspiration and I’m running this campaign in his memory. It’s my way of paying tribute to him,” said Vijay Iyer.