Bilal Dar, an 18-year-old ragpicker who earned his living by picking up waste from the Wular Lake in Bandipora district of north Kashmir, has been appointed brand ambassador of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).
“He will be our brand ambassador. He is an inspiration for everybody. He has been earning his livelihood by cleaning the Wular Lake and removing garbage, used bottles and shoes among other things for many years now,” said Dr Shafqat Khan, SMC commissioner.
For almost five years now, Dar, a resident of Laharwarpora of Bandipora district, has been removing plastic trash from the lake and selling it for around Rs 150-200 per day, which helps him support his mother Mughali and two sisters. Dar’s father Mohammad Ramzan Dar, a ragpicker on the Wular himself, died of cancer in 2003.
Media reports have estimated that Dar collected over 12,000 kg trash annually.
As a brand ambassador of the SMC, Dar will be given a special uniform and a vehicle to go and meet people in commercial and residential areas.
“He will tell them the story of his life, his work in Wular and his commitment to environmental causes. Most importantly, he will talk to people and sensitise them about environmental issues, cleanliness and garbage disposal,” Dr Khan said.
Talking about his new post, Dar said, “I am very happy. I will go around as the brand ambassador and tell people that if we keep our surroundings clean and follow garbage disposal mechanism, it will benefit all.”