‘Give plastic, take gold’ plastic-free campaign launched by Sarpanch in Anantnag, J&K

For socio-cultural relevance, in the villages of Jammu & Kashmir an environmental cultural revolution is taking birth, the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Shri Manoj Sinha said. Behind this there are many people who by their thoughts and lifestyle and with simplicity, equality, harmony and peace have tried to realise the power of the population to achieve creative work. One such personality from Sadiwara village in Anantnag is Sarpanch Farooq Ahmad Ganai. To make his Panchayat clean and plastic-free he started a campaign ‘Give plastic and take gold’. He has declared that under this campaign, whoever gathers 20o kg of plastic waste will be awarded a gold coin on behalf of the Panchayat. A new awareness has been created in the society towards cleanliness by the Sarpanch. Not only in Sadiwara, but in nearby villages also the cleanliness campaign has become a mass movement, LG said. In 2018 I was elected as the Sarpanch of this village by contest and not by selection, said Sarpanch Farooq Ahmad Ganai. When he took charge as Sarpanch he felt that he needed to give to society and the nation. In the last three decades, the condition was bad with turmoil, and Kashmir lost a lot, the Sarpanch said. We lost our culture and social fabric. At some point of time we lost our identity too. Kashmir was known for everything. And the turmoil and propagation by enemy countries have virtually done us into dust, Sarpanch felt. I have to do something different, I thought. After becoming a Sarpanch I came to understand Gram Panchayat and Gram Sabha. Why have these been structured and what will be my role as Sarpanch? I began with MGNREGA government funds and I could see the government coming to the ground. The DC coming to your door and the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha coming to your village or city. That means you are recognised as a respectable citizen, the Sarpanch added. And when you are recognised as a respectable citizen then you owe something to the society and the nation. I saw that development is happening and infrastructure is building up. My village had just one transformer. Then in the last three-four years, now we have eight transformers with the kind support of the government and two-three more are in the pipeline. On the aspect of cleanliness, the Sarpanch said, there is a spring and I was so disheartened to see a river coming out of that spring full of diapers, sanitary pads and garbage from homes. Then I resolved that I had to do something about it. And then the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was started by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. I thought that if my PM can have such a social and pious vision then it got me inspired and made me think. My first inspiration is the PM of India who gave the slogan ‘Swachata hi Sewa hai’. When I connected it to social ethos and with other aspects, I found it wonderful. And I started work on solid waste management, environmental conditions of my village and various aspects. Back to Village I, II and III programmes were organised. In Back to Village I, we decided that we will build a dustbin and garbage bin in every home under NREGA. And that was replicated in the whole of J&K UT. Then I said that in every village there needs to be a Safai Mitra/ Saathi. The government is not in a position to pay them a huge amount but at the same time we can give them an honorarium and that honorarium in the long run can be managed by the user fee collected from the households in the Panchayat, the Sarpanch said. The narrative has changed now. We have been witnessing so many things and our minds are getting changed. And the credit again goes to our PM for his social engineering and belief that our Kashmir is changing. Now governance is coming at the doorsteps. In our village there are more than 200 farmers whose accounts receive money deposited from the government. Earlier there was the rule that only a BPL can get free treatment in hospitals. But I have not seen any BPL getting free treatment even if he was dying, the Sarpanch shared. In contrast, today every citizen is getting the benefit of the Golden Card. Also, the government is taking such initiatives from which you can generate employment, said Sarpanch Farooq Ahmad Ganai.

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