Jodie Underhill is waging a war – against the mess being left behind by relief operations in disaster-struck Uttarakhand.
Underhill, a British national, has been collecting garbage strewn by the food stalls at Doon Helidrome in Dehradun. These stalls provide food for rescued pilgrims and their kin who often converge at the helipad.
Underhill’s mission has been to make the helipad and the India beyond litter-free. Her companion, a garbage bag, has earned her the ‘garbage girl’ moniker.
“It was heartbreaking to see how garbage was scattered all over the Helidrome. I took my staff along and began doing quietly what we best do – collecting waste,” said Underhill, founder and chief executive officer of Waste Warriors, a local NGO.
According to Underhill, the Uttarakhand flash floods were just a warning, nature’s way of “telling us that enough is enough”.
She said: “Instead of feeling pity for the people affected by the flood, we must make changes to prevent disasters in the future. Taking care of our immediate environment will be the easiest way in that direction.”
She also urged food stalls to use reusable plates and cups instead of the ones made of non-biodegradable material.
Underscoring how a huge clean-up operation would be required in the affected areas after the rescue operations, Underhill said, “We would like to help co-ordinate the cleanliness mission and can advise on how to collect, dispose of and recycle as much as possible.”
Jodie Underhill hand picking garbage that has been strewn around the premises of Doon Helidrome in Dehradun. Vinay Santosh Kumar/HT