azadi can wait, but Dal Lake cannot. These words of Charles Goshen still inspires the volunteers of Green Kashmir, a non-governmental organisation floated by him to save Dal Lake from pollution. A few years ago, Goshen, a South African national, received threats from militants asking him to desist from highlighting the environmental issues on the pretext that it was an effort to divert the people's attention from "the azadi movement to non-issues'. But this gentleman refused to get bogged down. He replied to the militants' threats by saying: "I am not concerned whether Kashmir becomes part of India or Pakistan. I feel that Dal Lake will not survive till your (separatist) dream of azadi gets fulfilled because it is facing chronic problems'.
And this kind of approach finally paid. Several separatist' leaders including former chairman of All Parties Hurriet Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammed Yasin Malik became the supporters of Green Kashmir. Today, Green Kashmir collects three tonnes of solid waste from the population of 39,000 Dal dwellers daily.
"It has not been a smooth sailing for us. We have faced a lot of hardships in creating awareness among the Dal dwellers about the hazards of solid wastes to the Lake. When Goshen floated Green Kashmir, a few people supported him. Some of them left following the militant threats. Charles, however, continued his work. At one time he used to drive an auto rickshaw load carrier on Boulevard, collecting garbage from dwellers and then dumping it in the municipality sites', recalls Gowhar Fazili, secretary, Green Kashmir.
The history of Green Kashmir is very interesting. Charles Herman Goshen, a writer, was a frequent visitor to Kashmir since 1984. The mesmerising beauty of Kashmir and its environs inspired him. Over a period of time he noticed steady process of deterioration in the lake. "He saw garbage being dumped directly into what must have appeared to him the pearl of Kashmir
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