Telangana adapts Kashmiri Sarpanch Farooq Ganai's gold for plastic campaign

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 31-07-2023
Sarpanch Farooq Ahmed  Ganai receiving the State award for cleanliness drive from Lt Governor Manoj Sinhamidst villagers of Sadiwara during a cleanliness drive
Sarpanch Farooq Ahmed Ganai receiving the State award for cleanliness drive from Lt Governor Manoj Sinhamidst villagers of Sadiwara during a cleanliness drive



Can plastic be converted into gold? It can be provided you are living in a picturesque village of South Kashmir Sadiwara.

In a pioneering effort, the village Panchayat offers a gold coin to anyone who can deposit a certain amount of plastic waste with it. In collateral, Sadiwara is a proud plastic-free village located in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

The campaign Plastic do Sona lo (Give plastic and take golld) is the brainchild of  Farooq Ahmed Ganai, Sarpanch of Sadiwara village. The campaign is so effective and has evoked interest everywhere that the government of Talangana recently adapted it.

Based on the Sadiwara campaign, the Telangna government has launched a scheme offering silver coin in lieu of plastic to its citizens.

"We have a responsibility towards our motherland – or say it is our religion – to keep the Earth that we walk on and that sustains life clean," says Farooq Ahmed Ganai, Sarpanch of Sadiwara, whose brainchild is the gold-for-plastic scheme.

No wonder Ganai, a lawyer by profession always leaves home carrying a stick and a cloth bag. He picks bits of plastic and other trash on the way to work.

Farooq Ahmed Ganai’s idea was to make his village plastic-free with the participation of villagers. His idea of incentivizing the picking of plastic waste from the environment has worked wonders.

Here is a video of Sarpanch Faqooq Ahmed Ganai interacting with villagers and posted on social media:

Plastic waste is a major source of pollution in rivers, water bodies, and even drainage systems across India. At times, cows with a large quantity of plastic in their stomach have been treated by veterinarians.

Ganai started his mission Plastic do Sona lo (Give plastic and take gold)) four years ago. The success of his mission has spread far and wide.

The Sarpanch had promised one gold coin to anyone depositing 200 kg of plastic waste. Interestingly, Ganai’s wife Shabnam Farooq has offered to sponsor the gold coin from her mehr (a sum of money a Muslim wife is entitled to receive from her husband after their wedding.

In January, Sadiwara was officially declared plastic-free.

Riyaz Ahmed, Assistant Development Commissioner, Anantnag said Sadiwara is the first village in Kashmir to become plastic-free.

Speaking with Awaz-the Voice, Farooq Ahmad Ganai said his campaign is part of the books and journals promoting current affairs and also UPSC candidates appearing for civil services examinations are asked questions based on his experience.

He said, “Polythene has been a matter of concern as it does not decompose even in garbage pits. It was always in my mind and I finally worked out the plastic do sona lo scheme.

Sadiwara is a proud no-Plastic village

Given the huge response to his campaign, Ganai has revised the incentive; instead of 20 quintals of polythene, he is offering a gold coin to anyone depositing 2.5 quintals of plastic.

The first award was distributed on 7 May this year in the village and the function was joined in by social workers and government officials.

Ganai posted the video and pictures of the award distribution ceremony on Twitter

The gold coin was won by Shaukat Hussain of Sadiwara and Shahid Hussain Bhatt, deputy Sarpanch, Gram Panchayat of Gawas village in Verinag tehsil; and the cash prizes were given to: Shakeel Ahmed Wani (Rs 3000), President, Youth Club Sadiwara, Bashir Ahmed Wani, (Rs 2000).

Farooq Ahmad Ganai, 52, has become a source of inspiration to everyone in the Kashmir Valley. He also runs an NGO by the name of Social Reconstruction Center Kashmir, through which he has helped initiate cleanliness campaigns even in places like Vishakhapatnam where Charan Kumar has launched a similar program in his village.

Ganai told Awaz-The Voice that he launched his campaign by announcing the mike in the streets of the village. Soon the villagers joined him and freeing the land from plastic become a passion for everyone.

He told villagers that it is an opportunity to convert trash into treasure.

For a larger impact on the environment, Ganai started convincing the villagers to make garbage pits in their homes to ensure that the solid waste is disposed of well within the premises of their homes.

Farooq Ahmad Ganai said, "Locals of all age groups showed interest and when the panchayat encouraged them to collect plastic waste from landfills, rivers, and roads, they joined the movement."

Recipients displaying their gold coins after the award ceremony

farooq Ahmed Ganai believes that "If we do not pay attention to cleanliness, then within the next 10 years you will not find any clean source of water or fertile land.

“It is with everyone's cooperation that this campaign has become a success, and social media has also played a vital role,” he said.

Farooq Ahmed Ganai has also been honoured for this cleanliness mission. He told Awaz-The Voice that the population of Sadiwara village is more than 7000 people with 400 houses. “Now I see a special change in the people here, there has been a change in behavior on a large scale.”

He says his scheme was also spoken of at the top echelons of power. "Everyone praises the Sadiwara campaign and asks others to follow it," he said.

Ganai said he is very impressed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and he has received appreciation for his role in keeping India clean. The government has also given his panchayat a plastic decomposing machine.Going down memory lane, Ganai said in his childhood, he used to see that his family and the people of the neighborhood used to walk up the rivers to fetch potable water. However, today, he says, “It is sad to see today the rivers are so polluted that our new generation cannot even touch it.”

He says, “We have to take care of nature so that our future generations also appreciate and love it.”

Ganai says he plans to take his campaign across India. He doesn’t mind doing door-to-door to check plastic pollution.