Bilal Ahmad Dar, an 15 -Year old rag picker who earned his living by cleaning Wullar Lake in North Kashmir’s Bandipora District has been appointed as brand ambassador of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).
From last five years, Bilal Ahmad dar, who is hailing from Laharwarpora village of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district has been removing plastic trash from the lake and selling it for around Rs 200 to 250 per day, which helps him support his mother Mughali and his sister.
During the initial years after losing his father, Bilal’s mother raised him and his two sisters, and took care of their expenses. But the meagre savings his father left them did not last for more than a couple of years.
When Bilal was in class 7, he asked his mother for money to pay his school fee and she burst out crying because she didn’t have any. “That was the time when I decided to quit studies and do some menial jobs,” he said
He started with odd jobs. Some of his stints included working at a garage and another as a helper in a local hotel.His job at the hotel did not last long, after visitors in the hotel warned the owner about being charged with child labour if he did not dismiss Bilal. “ That was another blow ”
Since the death of his Father, Bilal became bread earner for us, his Mother Mugli begum said, added that bilal collected over 14,000 kg trash per Year. He didn’t bear my pain while I doing hard work, He Abandoned Studies to Relieve my suffering she said.
I collected plastic and polythene trash to take them to my home and sell them. Off course it fetches me some money. But it also help in cleaning the Wular. Water has to be clean as We drink it.There are Dead Animals floating in Wular. Our environment has Degraded. there is every chance you will ill, If you drink the water.
If I pick out a 100 Bottles it helps in Regeneration of water, These bottles are full of poison. The wular gets clean in process. I often remain in Wular from Dawn to dusk. I have to earn so I mostly stay here in Wular. I am selling that removing plastic trash from the wular. Some day I don’t earn and I have to bear it. Otherwise I feel like drowning myself bilal said.
“Expressing his concern about the deteriorating state of the water body, Bilal said, “It always pains me to see Wular in shambles. It is a livelihood for many. Our family drinks water from this lake. If we lose this lake, we will have nothing to gift to our future generations if pollution goes on at the same rate. They will curse us.”
The SMC Commissioner Shafkat Khan, he said that Bilal is their brand ambassador. Bilal is an inspiration character for everyone. Since last five years Bilal has been earning his livelihood by cleaning the Wular Lake and removing garbage, used bottles and shoes. Khan said that bilal will get a special uniform of SMC and vehicle to visit different areas to motivate people, shopkeepers and commuters to keep Wullar clean. He will tell them the story of his life, his work in Wullar. He will meet people and sensitise them about cleanliness and garbage disposal.
Bilal has been offered a job by Srinagar Municipal Corporation besides being rewarded with a cash of Rs 10,000 at a function held at a private hotel in Srinagar. RDD has sanctioned Rs 1.5 Lac for Bilal to construct a house.
The teenage rag picker shot to fame after a local filmmaker, Jalal Baba, made a film ‘Saving the saviour’ on Wular Lake with Bilal as its main character, while narrating his story with this Correspondent at his Laharwarpora resident said there is a lot of trash around Wullar Lake, it poisons water due to which it disappointed Tourists which are coming from Nook and Corner of the World, so I decided to clean it, I am cleaning Wullar from the year 2012. I earned Around 6000 thousands per Month.It fetched Baba first position at 6th National Science Film Festival (NSFF) in Mumbai.
India needs more role models like Bilal. More power to him!