Age does not matter when one is determined to bring about a positive change. Kashmir’s seven-year-old Jannat has been setting an example for two years with her efforts to clean the iconic Dal Lake in Srinagar. Her story is now included in the curriculum of a school in Hyderabad.
Srinagar’s famous Dal Lake has shrunk from its original size of 22 square kilometers to about 10 square kilometers due to pollution and encroachment. The water quality of the lake has also deteriorated over the years. Jannat, who is currently studying in third grade at Linton Hall Public School, Srinagar, has taken up the responsibility to keep the lake clean.
In an interview with groundreport.in Jannat said, “I was inspired by my father to clean the lake. All recognition I am getting is due to my baba.”
“It is nice. People should keep the dal lake clean. Then only visitors will come here. It is because of this cleaning my name has now come in textbooks”, Jannat said.
“The Dal Lake has been polluted, we have to clean it and make it beautiful again and preserve it. Whenever I went by boat, I would see a lot of garbage in the waters. I used to feel bad and decided to help my father clean up the garbage. I feel very happy after removing garbage and litter from the lake. My brother, sister and Baba help me a lot in cleaning up.”
Jannat has appealed to local people and tourists not to throw garbage in the lake. “I request all children to join hands with me to clean the lake. I also request the tourists not to throw waste in the lake,” she said. Her father Tariq Ahmad speaking to groundreport.in said “he got a call from a friend from Hyderabad, who told him that his daughter’s name should be included in a school textbook. It was a proud moment for us”.
He is happy that the efforts of Jannat are getting praised all over the world. Tariq said “these compliments will encourage Jannat to move forward. He wants his daughter to become an environmentalist in the future and try to keep the lake clean in a big way”.
He further said “Jannat has been associated with this lake since childhood. He added “My daughter used to convince someone when they would throw garbage in the lake only at the age of three years. Once, a tourist was forced to come back from the road and take out a plastic bottle from the lake”.
Her father still remembers the incident which made him feel worried about the rising pollution level in the lake. He said that one day he was taking a boat ride with a foreigner in the lake. He refused to throw his remaining cigarette into the lake and wrapped it in a piece of paper and kept it in his pocket. That incident changed him. Then he realized that everyone should contribute to clean the lake. Jannat gets angry when she sees someone smoking or dumping garbage around the lake.
Tariq Ahmad added, “I want others to come forward and help in cleaning the lake so that its clean water attracts more and more people to Kashmir.” “We have recovered many alcohol bottles from the lake. To keep the lake clean, the government should close liquor shops in the Dal Lake area and ban alcohol.”
A video of Jannat cleaning the lake had gone viral in 2018 and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lauded her efforts on Twitter and also spoke about it on his radio talk show Mann ki Baat.”
In an old video that went viral on social media two years ago, Jannat can be heard saying, “Today, my father and I cleaned the lake a bit. We got a lot of garbage, but only I am cleaning Dal Lake. Dal Lake is one of the best things we have, we all should come forward and do our best to maintain our beauty.
Jannat and her father have also started a Facebook page called Mission Dal Lake, where they talk about various initiatives and discuss such things in which the government can take steps to clean the lake.