‘Garbage girl’ gets ‘Green Hero’ award

Shimla, July 2 (Calcutta Tube) The ‘garbage girl’ of the mountains was honoured with a ‘Green Hero’ award at an environment film festival that began in the Himachal Pradesh state capital Friday.

British national Jodie Underhill’s contribution towards helping clean up trash in the mountains surrounding McLeodganj, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in upper Dharamsala, was brought to the fore by IANS in its report, titled ‘The ‘garbage girl’ of the mountains’ dated May 16.

Jodie received the award at the inauguration of a three-day Shimla CMS Vatavaran-Environment and Wildlife Travelling Film Festival and Forum 2010.

After getting the award, Jodie, who is popular among the locals in Dharamsala town as the ‘garbage girl’, told IANS: ‘We (mountain cleaners) are now going to adopt another mountain in the state, where there is an acute problem of disposable waste left behind mainly by the tourists.’

‘The cleanliness drive in Dharamsala is quite a success and we will replicate the same project in and around the Manimahesh lake in Chamba district.

‘For this, the drive would start next month when the annual pilgrimage begins for a month,’ she said.

More than 100,000 devotees take a dip in the lake’s icy waters in August every year and offer prayers to Mount Kailash, believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The month-long pilgrimage concludes on the occasion of Radha Ashtami.

‘I have come to know from some foreign trekkers, who visited the lake last year, that during the pilgrimage the devotees leave behind a huge trash that poses a serious threat to the high-altitude glacial lake,’ the 34-year-old Briton said.

According to her, the entire 14-km trek from Hadsar, located at a height of 6,000 feet, to the oval-shaped lake at 13,500 feet would be cleared of waste.

She said during the drive even the people would be sensitised about the safe disposal of non-biodegradable waste.

Currently, Jodie and other volunteers, mostly foreigners, set out every morning to collect non-biodegradable waste dumped carelessly in the mountains surrounding Dharamsala. They have formed a group called Mountain Cleaners.

Jodie came to Dharamsala in January to sponsor the education of some Tibetan children in McLeodganj, but soon got involved in cleaning the mountains after seeing piles of garbage.

The volunteers also visit Triund (the popular trekking route overlooking Dharamsala) once in a week to collect wastes like polythene and paper bags, empty beer and liquor bottles, old tents, food item sachets and clothes.

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