Kashmiri women"s group steps up to help clear trash littered across mountains in valley

  • | Sunday | 17th July, 2022

Srinagar, Jul 17 (PTI) Every Sunday a group of young Kashmiri women undertake mountain treks across the valley, not just for the thrill of it but to help clear trash especially plastic bottles littered by tourists which pose a threat to the fragile environment.The initiative is the brainchild of Mantasha Binti Rashid, a dynamic Kashmir Administrative Service officer and founder of NGO Kashmir Women"s Collective (KWC). She leads from the front and draws volunteers for the drive using social media."We started this initiative last year on (International) Women’s Day on March 8 with the twin objectives of creating space for women and girls to explore nature and safeguard the environment," Rashid told PTI.She said the group has covered more than 40 mountain treks, both long and short ones, across the valley over the past year. The response to the initiative has been heart-warming with dozens of women and girls, both professional and students, joining in voluntarily under the banner of the KWC, Rashid said."We trek on Sunday"s only to ensure that all members are available. We have covered almost all tourist attractions in south, central and north Kashmir, and collected tons of garbage, mostly the plastic bottles, while enjoying nature at the same time," the officer currently posted as secretary in the Srinagar Development Authority said.She said while the longest trek they have covered is of 26 kilometres, their focus for the shorter routes mainly remained on the Shankaracharya hills on the Zabarwan range overlooking the world famous Dal Lake in Srinagar."When we cannot do much, we often go to the Shankaracharya hill. One can see a lot of plastic littered there. We collect these in big garbage bags which we carry along," she said, requesting the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and Srinagar Smart City to install garbage collection bins, barrels and buckets along the treks and ensure these are emptied on time."Since ours is an open initiative for Kashmiri women and led by women, they can approach us through our pages on social media. We have a dedicated WhatsApp group," she said.Rashid said boys are also welcome to join the initiative but they need to be referred by members who can be their sisters, mothers or any other relative.She said their efforts have garnered a lot of support from women in the valley who have suffered immensely during the past three decades of violence."The KWC was in fact a platform to share, vent, fume and build support and compassion from that anger, to channelise that passion to help each other," Rashid said, reading out from the official page of the KWC."The KWC is an initiative to work towards a society where women feel safe and empowered in and outside their homes," she added. PTI SKL IJT

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