For over five years, Bilal Dar, a resident of Laharwarpora of Bandipora district, has been removing plastic trash from the Wular lake
Essar Bhat from Jammu & Kashmir
Bilal Dar alias Billa, an 18 year old hails from Laharwarpora of Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir. Billa came inti lime light when Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed Dar's effort for cleaning up Wular Lake. Bilal was hardly 14 year old when he started earning his living by picking up waste from the Wular Lake.
Bilal's father who was also a Rag picker, died in 2003 due to cancer. Soon after his father’s death in 2003 Bilal was forced to take to the job of Rag picking inside the Wular. He took to collecting plastic trash and other waste material from the Wular lake which would fetch him Rs 150-200 per day, which helped him financially support his mother Muggli Begum and two sisters. “I used to take somebody's boat in the wee hours of every morning and collect the rags from the Lake and which would fetch me some money after selling the same to trash dealers in the market,” Bilal Dar says. Later, Tassaduq Mufti, brother CM mehbooba Mufti gave him a boat for collection of garbage from the lake. The state government also gave him Rs 50,000 forconstruction of house. It was a documentary produced by one of the Kashmiri film maker Jalal-u-Din Baba which depicted the life of Bilal Dar.
The world famous Wular lake is on the verge of dying due to dumping of toxic debris, plastic, carcasses and much more. The Lake has reduced from 273 km to just 72 km of water expanse. Now he has been appointed as brand
ambassador of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, he will be given a special uniform and a vehicle to go and meet people in Srinagar’s commercial and residential areas, to tell people the story of his work in Wular. “This will help sensitise urban residents to understand value of environmental issues,
cleanliness and garbage disposal,” hopes Srinagar Municipal commissioner Dr Shafkat Khan.