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Bandipora's Wular Boy whose father dies of filthy water, pledges to keep the lake clean

Post by on Saturday, June 25, 2022

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Bandipora, June 24: Bilal Dar, a teenage boy from Laharwalpora village of north Kashmir's Bandipora also known as "Wular Boy", started earning by collecting waste from wular lake at the age of 14.
When Bilal became 18, he came into the limelight for his efforts to clean the Wular Lake as a rag-picker and was hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his "Man ki Baat" radio address. 
Talking to Rising Kashmir he said he was seven years old when his father used to take him in Wular lake. "My father was a fisherman and used to feed us by taking fish and chestnuts from lake", he said. 
Bilal said, "one day when I was in lake along with my father, I noticed that there is a lot of waste in the lake and is increasing day by day which had a potential to affect our livelihood in future as the lake was the only source of earning for us".
"I along with my father started collecting this waste besides catching fishes and extracting chestnuts and started selling it to scrap dealer", he added. 
Bilal said that once, his father slipped off the boat and injured his leg on a sharp wooden stave.He rushed to nearby local medical shop and had his wound bandaged.
"But as time went on, my father's wound began to grow and we took him to the doctor. The doctor said that he is suffering from leg cancer and this could be due to the dirty and toxic water of Wular Lake. Within months, his cancer spread and he died", Bilal said. 
With the passing of father, Bilal said responsibility of his two siblings and mother fell on him. "I took to collecting trash and other waste material from the Wular lake which would fetch me Rs 150-200 per day and helped me financially support my family", he said. 
Bilal said that the Wular, which was once Asia's largest fresh water lake has become so much toxic that even people do not use it for washing clothes. It is because of public apathy that they never valued it and kept throwing trash in it. 
"I cannot forget when doctors told me that the toxic water of Wular lake caused my father's death.Since then I have promised myself that i will continue to clean this lake ", he added.
He said, "I also used to counsel friends and neighbors to avoid the damage to the lake which is our source of livlihood and we need to make amends. The results are evident, I am seeing a change".
Bilal further said that he was appointment as the Brand Ambassador of cleanliness by Srinagar Municipal Corporation when Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised his efforts in his " Man ki Baat" radio address. 
"It is only because of my father's good teachings that my efforts were acknowledged by one and all particularly the Prime Minister of India. I am not only cleaning the lake water myself but also influencing people to keep it clean", he said. 
Bilal said that he is still collecting trash from the lake and selling it to scrap dealer. "I am saving money to get my widow sister married and want to see my Abu (father) happy wherever he is. I always obeyed his teachings and he died doing what we should all do, keeping waterbodies clean", Bilal added.

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