British garbage girl Jodie Underhill given Green Award in Himachal

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Shimla: British national Jodie Underhill, popularly known as garbage girl, was today honoured with a green award for running ‘Mountain Cleaners’, a voluntary organization that collects disposal waste left behind by tourists in Dharamshala.

Felicitating the Briton at the inauguration of a two environment film festival organized by Centre for Media Studies (CMS) Vatavaran, Gulab Singh Thakur said, “leaving behind garbage at tourist destinations was become a bane for the hills.”

Acknowledging the contribution of Jodie and her organization, Thakur said, “cleaner and greener hills were the very basis of sustaining tourism in the region.”

Speaking the occasion the 34 year old garbage girl announced plans for adopting another hill after Dharamshala for clearing waste.

“The cleanliness an environment awareness campaign in Dharamshala has been a success and we hope to replicate the program for high altitude Manimahesh Lake in Chamba district where waste disposal left behind by growing number of pilgrims is mounting, said Jodie.

“Foreign trekkers who visited the glacial lake last year have warned about the serious threat the serene mountain lake faces from the amount of garbage left behind by pilgrims and others, she added.

Jodie along with volunteers, mainly consisting of foreigners have formed a group called ‘Mountain Cleaners, who do a morning round collecting non-biodegradable waste dumped in and around the Dhauladhar mountains around Dharamshala.

Editor-Reporter with Hill Post, Ravinder Makhaik as a journalist has for over two decades worked for India’s leading newspapers and television networks.

13 Comments

  • VIVEK MOHAN says:

    Gr8 ! What about our own late Kinkri Devi ?! Now who’s to blame…the organisers or the press giving in to white skin which perhaps makes a better photo-op ! Rather we should be ashamed of an outsider cleaning our own backyard and proud of KD !

    • Hello all, I’ve looked up Kinkri Devi and the great work she did and I’m sure she would be pleased to hear about the work of the Mountain Cleaners if she was still alive.
      At the start of this year I spent two months learning about waste management in India. During this time I visited Trade Unions of ragpickers, went on door to door waste collections, and spent time at Dharavi slums learning about recycling. I am fully aware that the people who work with waste are providing a valuable contribution to society and that their efforts go largely unrecognised. Please have a look at a link on The Mountain Cleaners facebook page called ‘Inspiring Info about environmental and social projects in India’ to find out more about my research trip.

      I help the rag pickers here in Bhagsu and pass all the recyclables on to a lady called Gudo Devi who collects them for a living. I could sell the recyclables myself but prefer to help someone in need instead. I’ve cleared masses of waste and stinking rotten food filled with maggots and flies out of the childrens playground several times due to hotels dumping there and pick up garbage nearly every single day. We run a weekly waste collection from Triund using volunteers where we sort and collect the waste from 5 chai shops and 3 guest houses every Monday and scale the steep and often dangerous mountain slopes collecting garbage every Tuesday.

      I’ve used up my own savings funding this project, have bad skin due to working in hot and dirty conditions, trek up a mountain every week and carry down heavy bags of garbage on my back, I work on this project seven days a week, organizing the Triund trip, washing gloves and bags, doing mass cleans up, preparing awareness materials and generally working my butt off. I get no payment at all and could be laid on a beach right now or at home with my family and friends but instead I’m here. I’m here because I love India and its people very much and I believe that this project has many benefits, environmentally and socially.

      I didn’t ask for the publicity and the colour of my skin is irrelevant. The media have helped us in many ways by connecting us with people and raising awareness about the project. The press coverage found us a sponsor Rayat Bahra who have given us money to fund an environmental program in schools. All positive stuff I’m sure you’ll agree.

      Feel free to contact me on [email protected] if you require more information.
      Best wishes
      Jodie Underhill

    • Nick Josh says:

      @ VIVEK MOHAN..hi good day..well u tell me how many times you put the left over igarette bud in proper place or threw the candy or bubble gum cover in garbage box..and how many times did u thought and acted upon that thought of stopping others from throwing garbage in public places…ans speaking of http://www.mountaincleaners.org and Jodie..they are far better than the local people who just do the talking and making fun of people who do the cleaning..i remember the day when we were cleaning the playground in Bhagsu..the locals were staring and laughing at us and also were making dirty comments..saying “these are the 3rd grade people who come to India and do such cleaning ” . I didn’t got bothered by them and continued helping Jodie and her team..and you talk about Smt Kinkri Devi..how many times did u spread the word about her before reading about Jodie…Indians and local Himachal people just talk talk and do the Lip service only…and i’m not ashamed of saying u r also one of them…and last don’t think I’m an NRI or foreigner..i’m also local from Chamba and Kangra distt…and I’m proud to found Jodie and http://www.mountaincleaners.org and I’ll always look forward to help them whenever i get to…and I bet if Smt Kinkri Devi was alive she would have loved Jodie!
      no bad feelings for anyone here or any local Himachal people I love my “Dev Bhumi” and i’ll keep helping Jodie for keeping “Dev Bhumi” clean…!

      • Vishal Gurung says:

        hey nick i think I have met you in Bahgsu…now I also I don’t see you volunteering…….do you know Mountain Cleaners had declined to the Audit of Donations they received and that was the reason why Mountain Cleaners was renamed to Waste Warriors …..if you read this do meet me any day in Cafe Coffe Day, McLeod Ganj..I now work here.

    • Vishal Gurung says:

      Hi, Vivek I agree with you we really get impressed with foreigners and as of Mountain Cleaners and Waste Warriors…why MC didn’t agreed to allow the Audit of Donations and recalling one event for Triund we were working at one point and Jodie was just standing and talking to her friend..then she saw a Rich guy of Bhagsu approaching on seeing him she suddenly sat with us and started working to show..I literally heard her saying that..and that was really disappointing for me……..and in place of Jodie if there was some local guy/girl doing same work, we certainly would have made fun of him/her…..that’s late Kinkari Devi was not famous and still no one knows about her even I was not aware of her till I read your comment…………….it has been since 1600 we easily get impressed with foreigners….and now of Waste Warriors they do cleaning only in those points where they get noticed by public…that’s why Dal Lake is still trashed and Guna Mata temple site is also far from public….I had volunteered to WW so about them..

  • Rajneesh says:

    True said Vivek..Kinkari devi didn’t look like a model..that’s why no news for her…its such a slap on our mis organised way of living that Britishers still telling us after 200 years that “You Don’t Know How To Live Neatly ! I always ask the founder members of My Himachal web site that “tell me where to send pictures that i keep collecting in from various parts of Himachal that narrate the horrible story of Garbage and efficiency of our so called “ECO-Sensitive” Leaders..! I have so many pictures that will expose the blunders of “Eco-Tourism & Clean Himachal !

    We are a nation and a creed of sleeping people..only when we are about to die of extremes..then only we get into action ..otherwise keep contented with all sorts of absurdities happening all around us ..Our past of thousand years of Slavery by Moughals, By Pourtuguse, By Britishers..and Now by Our “Fraudulent Politicians & Corrupt Officials” is biggest demonstrated proof to our lifestyle, existence and acceptance !

  • mukul phukon says:

    Dear Jodie Underhil
    cleaning of environment, your activities inspired us ,go ahead we are proud of you.

  • A S Bhalaik says:

    Here lies the difference. We want to expose our leaders by publishing pictures of horrible story of garbage in Himachal and the foreigner lady is doing the real ground work of cleaning garbage without any publicity or interest.Simply because she loves this country. Yet she is facing criticism!
    We are proud of you Ms Jodie Underhill.

  • Anil Chandel says:

    Absolutely right, Mukul.

    Although, it may have also been an experience for Jodie and it has brought her recognition as well, but ultimately, its the local public at some place in Himachal, that stands to gain from it. Be it rag-pickers for money or communities for cleanliness or simply being green by recycling waste and helping local environment!

    Now, the HP Govt. giving her the green award, for one project, whereas Late Kinkri Devi spent a lifetime doing so… doesn’t make sense either.
    When Late Kinkri Devi needed financial support (I think, 4-5 years back), it had to been done via the press as a request for public support, let alone recognizing here contributions to the state and providing her any govt support.

    If my memory serves me, even “My Himachal” contributed towards her financial support a well.

    FInally, Jodie came to Himachal from the UK, spent her own personal savings for the project, it is commendable.

    I would ask only one question… What have you done for Himachal with your personal savings, lately?

    LET THIS BE AN INSPIRATION FOR ALL.

    • AVi says:

      Anil,

      You are right. My Himachal’s first help was to Kinkri Devi when no one was coming forward. Thanks to Dr. Bhugol Chandel who reacted after the Tribune story and overnight help was provided in financial form. And the current team, including you, is working so hard to build a strong Himachal and a stronger platform via My Himachal.

      I wish people join hands with MH or anyone doing good work to do something worthwhile and change HP rather than just keep raising issues.

    • VIVEK MOHAN. says:

      The film was made by ‘personal savings’ only…the visits to edu institites for shows excluded…it was donated to H.P.Govt. on 1/1/2009.After the usual sarkari/press sycophant tamasha i still wonder what happened next?! By the way the cost price was INR 2Lacs in 2002-03…paid the crew in installments…no one but very few mentioned this ‘GREEN’ falicitation…may be a corp sponsor was not there to ‘buy’ intersets’ in H.P. I’m not at all modest about it but just getting the record straight.Ignorance is not always bliss! Ghar ki daal murgi barabar…i’m a veg!

  • ajay kumar kalra says:

    hello jodie . iam fine thank u very much for doing this great job for all of us human being and animal to protect them from the bad enviornment and mostly to protect the plants and tress and our water by doing this great job god bless u very much for this . iam schol teacher so i also want join u for this great work . can u help me to join u and guide me so i can also do this great job whenever i will get time ajay waiting ur reply

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