Published: 10th July 2019
This environmentalist from Jammu and Kashmir has been gathering young volunteers to work together to preserve their biodiversity
Omer and his team often conduct cleanliness drives in surrounding lakes and rivers, apart from awareness campaigns across the state
Be it the exotic snow leopard, the black necked crane or the indigenous Hangul deer, Jammu and Kashmir has been a paradise for wildlife, apart from the natural beauty that it's known for. However, with increasing use of plastic and other pollutants, wildlife as we know is at the brink of extinction. Which is why 24-year-old Omer Majeed Wani and a few other volunteers are making haste and creating awareness on the danger ahead.
Omer attended a school where the curriculum had an environmental focus. Inspired by his Principal and others, Omer wanted to continue working with people who were passionate about the earth and preserving the environment. A friend recommended the Wildlife Conservation Fund, an organisation that was focused on taking on environmental issues like climate change by educating and empowering youth, organising community events, and getting involved in local politics through the Youth Parliament of J and K. It was 2016 when Omer took part in a meeting and immediately loved the atmosphere of youth and adult mentors working together to decide what actions they could take.
Three years later, today, he serves as the Chief Coordinator of the organisation's J and K wing. The most essential aspect of our group is that it’s youth-led. But that’s not always an easy thing to achieve. However, we've managed to gather at least a thousand volunteers across the country to support our cause," says Omer. His first project was intended to clean up rivers and wetlands. The group also submitted a PIL to the High Court, regarding the harmful impact of polluting the water bodies. After that he took up another project to clean up the Dal lake and yet another one to protect endangered species.
Omer and the volunteers conduct awareness drives in schools, colleges and among the locals with regard to the environment. "We also conduct cleanliness drives, where our volunteers remove plastic and other pollutants from the water bodies. We also have pep talks in schools and colleges and we make short films and art projects as well," adds Omer. The group is also constantly trying to get the government's attention towards the environmental crisis they're facing. The biggest threat to the state right now with regard to the environment is the contamination of water bodies through plastic. This poses a threat to birds and animals too. Kashmir is rich in biodiversity and we have to protect it," concludes Omer