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Meet Class XI Student Who Reuses Solid Waste To Save Fragile Environment In Kashmir

Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | India Tomorrow

SRINAGAR—Inside a small room with scruffy walls, Shahid-ul-Islam Bhat is busy segregating the plastic waste. From empty juice cans to soft drink bottles, Bhat is trying to make sense of the waste he has collected from different streets and households. A bunch of wires and color boxes adorns a corner shelf of his room which he has converted into a makeshift workshop.

From truck replica to sports car model, Bhat has embarked on a journey to reuse waste material in a bid to create awareness about environmental degradation. 

Hailing from the picturesque village of Thokarpora in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, 16-year-old class XI student wants to become a mechanical engineer to live his dreams.

Replica of a truck made by Shahid-ul-Islam from street waste. Photo: India Tomorrow.

Coming from a humble background, his father and elder brother are daily-wage laborers in south Kashmir. “I have to struggle hard for money. Today, I had to pay a school fee of Rs 1600. I asked the father to give me Rs 1700 so that I can use 100 bucks to buy color,” Bhat told India Tomorrow.

He started pursuing his dream when he was in class VII, but due to lack of avenues, it did not click. “It was my passion. I started reusing waste to make replicas when I was in class VII. As I grow, my interest level also became intense. Now I have made four replicas including a truck and three sports cars. Plus I have also created some small items. All have been made from the waste material,” he said.

 Like any other teenager, he tried to keep his passion close to his heart and did not want to disclose it to parents fearing reprisal. “My parents wanted me to focus on my studies. I did not disclose it to them. As I am now in class XI, they have learnt that it is my passion. Now they are supporting me,” he said.

Replica of a jeep made by Shahid-ul-Islam. Photo: India Tomorrow.

For him, reusing waste is not just fulfilling passion but has an underlying message of saving the environment. 

Every day, he collects waste from street corners and households and uses it to create interesting things. “People are appreciating me. I am getting orders for small replicas. I need money to buy color and other material,” he said.

The young innovator is now trying to create a shoe that would be used as a torch while walking. “Our elders go to masjid for Fajr and Isha prayers and it is pitch dark outside. So I want to create a shoe that will have an inbuilt torch and help people to navigate the route with ease. I am also working on a shovel which will guide the farmers in sowing seeds at the right places,” he said.

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