Creating Awareness about Plastic Pollution: One Man`s Crusade to Save the Environment


Abid Husain Bhat

SRINAGAR: While everybody around is busy either getting swamped in the ongoing political turmoil in the valley or busy dousing the fires, Mushtaq Pahalgmi (Mushtaq Ahmad Magrey) of the Himalayan Welfare Organization fame, is steadfastly guarding local ecology and championing the cause of environmental conservation in the Himalayan region.

Pahalgam local ecology suffers multiple challenges from local domestic, commercial and tourist activity, causing immense pressure on the sensitive environs of this glacier region, with tons of garbage dumped illegally near the water bodies, untreated sewage discharged into local canals and rivulets and illegal felling of trees.

The pressure rises particularly darting peak tourist and Yatra periods. Mushtaq Pahalgami, however, is one of the very few people committed to the task of stopping illegal land grab/tree-felling and sewage/garbage discharge and dumping in the region.

He has also recently designed a number of sign boards to be put up along the Yatra route, on behalf of his organization, the HWO, for creating awareness about the dangers of irresponsible dumping/littering. Sign boards designed and put up on the Yatra route by Mushtaq Pahalgami, on behalf of the HWO

Notably, Mushtaq Pahalgami has also filed a number of Right to Information (RTI) applications to stop illegal construction/ land grab in the area, and has also helped enforce and secure the 2008 construction ban administered by the state high court in response to the Public Interest litigation (PIL) filed by Reyaz Ahmad of People’s Welfare Organization, Pahalgam, of which Mushatq Pahalagmi is an office-bearer.

Pahalgami also objected to the recent lifting of the 2010 state high court ban on polythene use in the state by state administration, which was subsequently taken notice of, by the court, compelling the administration to reconsider the lifting of the ban.

Mushatq Pahalagmi has also organized a number of seminars on environmental conservation and sustainable development over the last couple of years and has represented his organization in a umber of national/international seminars. He has also made consistent efforts at providing educational resources to children in the area, and has donated a number of book banks, computer systems etc to local schools and madras’s.

Pahalgami has also started a recent RTI/PSGA campaign to mobilize public resources and convince the administration to open/increase ether number of mobile schools for children of nomadic communities in the upper reaches and far flung areas in the region.

As the noted environmental magazine ‘Down to earth’ recently mentioned quoting Pahalgami, two of the most severe casualties of political turmoil are environment and education. Thankfully there are still some voices of sanity like Mushatq Pahalgami and his friends at the HWO, who are working to save both with a determined sense of awareness and social responsibility, setting an example for the youth to emulate and follow.

 The author is a Pahalgam based educationist and social worker. He can be reached at: