Meet the Brigade Against Plastics in the Srinagar Valley
May 21, 2015
Green Your City: Go Green Srinagar Part 1
You just can’t tell where plastic bags will end up, or can you?
In February, 40 pounds of plastic was surgically removed from a bull living on the streets of India. With an inexplicable bulge in its stomach, Animal Aid Charity workers spotted the creature wandering through familiar trash piles. No longer unusual, cows frequently eat plastic materials when searching for food on busy Indian streets. Though cows are held in high regard in India for cultural and religious reasons and their slaughter is forbidden in the majority of Indian states, it might just do the government better to ban plastics to stop cows from unnatural deaths.
With no end to plastic bags in sight for India’s 1.25 billion residents, local NGO Go Green Srinagar took to the streets with area clean ups and plastic bag reduction campaigns as part of the शहर GREEN करो – It’s Our Turn to Lead contest. Go Green Srinagar organized several events in and around the valley of Srinagar, a city in the Indian state Jammu and Kashmir.
Go Green Srinagar, along with Sanctuary Asia and Wildlife Conservation Fund facilitated an anti-polyethylene campaign at the City Centre in Srinagar, an area with shops, food stalls and vendors. Gaining support from the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) volunteers passed around biodegradable jute bags while educating shoppers on the dangers of plastics in the environment and their health. The community pledged to continue sustainability efforts;“I will not litter or let anyone litter” was one of the pledges taken, “Say No to Polyethylene Bags” was another.
They collaborated with SMC once again to initiate a massive clean-up drive at the tourist destination Pari Mahal, a 17th-century garden palace. Over 200 SMC employees joined volunteers to clean Pari Mahal and the nearby Chashma Shahi Garden.
With schools, Go Green Srinagar worked with the students of the Kashmir Public School in Harwan to take action by cleaning up the area between their school and Dachigram National Park, 13.67 miles from Srinagar. Nearby, students of Kashani Memorial Public School also led efforts to clean up the Neolithic site ofBurzahom, home to ancient architecture and tool-making sites between 3000 BCE to 1000 BCE. Along with faith organizations, a clean-up drive was held from Dalgate to a temple on Shankaracharya Hill and the Makhdoom Sahab Shrine in Srinagar. Workshops were also held to discuss conservation of Wular Lake—Asia’s largest freshwater lake– and green entrepreneurship to motivate businesses to become leaders in green practices.
Winning second place in the Earth Day Network-India शहर GREEN करो – It’s Our Turn to Lead Contest, Go Green Srinagar broadened environmental awareness and initiated action across their region by working with schools, NGOs, and faith communities. Cleaning up streets and sites deranged with plastic bags, bottles, and trash, Go Green Srinagar was motivated to act in their communities. But picking up trash and fining people every once in a while won’t be the solution to end pollution.
Through Earth Day Network’s campaign, professionals from the field of environmental studies, wildlife, law, journalism, and education were brought together with community members and volunteers. Support from Earth Day Network guided a proposal to form a think-tank called Environmental Policy Group (EPG) with representation from these sectors. The local know-how and technical knowledge of the group will help to change policies in Srinagar to tackle littering.
Check back tomorrow to read about what Go Green Srinagar did next (and click all the links to see Go Green in action!)