Anantnag (Sadiwara), May 14: On Sunday morning, as Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, retired senior IAS officer and former advisor to the Governor began addressing a gathering at Sadiwara, a hamlet in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, there was a feeling of triumph in the air in the entire area.
“I congratulate you for this wonderful initiative and hope you do not leave it halfway through ‘’, Ganai said.
He was speaking at a function organised in connection with “Give Plastic, Take Gold”, a novel initiative led by Adv Farooq Ahmad, sarpanch of village Sadiwara.
Last December, Ahmad announced to give gold coins for plastic and the initiative elicited an overwhelming response from the villagers and won him praise.
Within a few months, the entire village, some 30 km from Anantnag town, dotted with lofty walnut and willow trees was declared plastic free.
“We find plastic everywhere. Our streams and drains are clogged up with plastic,” said Ganai.
He said that “we missed a spirit of voluntary service, but this village offered a glimmer of hope.”
Ganie hoped that the Sadiwara experiment would turn out to be a trendsetter for other panchayats in the surrounding areas of district Anantnag.
He highlighted the overall problems of plastic pollution in the world and how it was a great threat to human health and ecology. Ganai also shed light on the hazardous effects of plastic leaching.
He explained, “how in the event of continuous rains and flooding, plastic accumulation within inhabited areas, on agricultural land, and in the water bodies was going to pose a serious threat to the health and safety of people.”
Ganai talked about “LIFE(lifestyle for the environment) being one of India’s nationally determined contributions to climate change mitigation and exhorted people to adopt a simple lifestyle for sustainability. “
“Kashmir’s natural resources like land, water, and glaciers are facing an existential threat due to excessive exploitation and overconsumption and it needs to be slowed down”, he said.
District Magistrate Anantnag, Syed Fakhrudin Hamid, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said that such an initiative should not be restricted to a particular village or a neighborhood only but must be implemented in other places as well.
“We have a plethora of programmes to get rid of the plastic waste but this is the best way of getting rid of it”, Hamid said. He thanked people for making this novel idea of doing away with plastic successful.
The District Magistrate also shed light on the rising drug addiction and urged the youth to steer clear of menace.
He appealed to the parents to keep an eye on their children. “They should talk and listen to them.”
“We should minimize the use of mobile phones to pave the way for exchanging ideas with our parents and other family members,” he said.
“Today we are keeping our promise and giving gold coins to those who collected the plastic waste”, said Ahmad, while addressing the gathering.
Ahmad said that the entire panchayat, villagers, Asha workers, and youth participated in his initiative.
Bhat Shahid and Showkat Ahamd won gold coins for collecting the plastic while Wani Shakeel and Bashir Ahmad Wani received cash rewards.
Prominent social activist Dr. Raja Muzafar, who announced the names of awardees said that “it is of utmost importance to develop sanitation-appropriate behavior among the people”.
He said that the initiative was turning into a movement and would have an impact on the national level.
Muzafar said that the solid waste needs to be managed and the people must know how to use the dustbin.