The National Action Plan for Climate Change (June, 2010) recommended that the use of plastic bags would be banned in all hill towns and villages. This has been done with commendable success in the States of Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Though local shopkeepers in the border regions of Himachal (Jawali, Nurpur, Una, Baddi) still use plastic bags aka panni and that won’t change until the local stakeholders refuse to buy anything that comes wrapped in plastic bags.
The second important recommendation was use of potable local water, certified by a designated State authority, provided through all commercial outlets, such as local shops and restaurants, to discourage the use of bottled water, which adds to toxic plastic litter in hill towns and along trekking routes.
However that seems like a pipe-dream because locals sell what tourists demand and bottled water seems to be a favorite of domestic tourists. Young Indians in particular are great fans of bottled water even if that means drinking locally made BRISLEI or AQAUFENA.
35 lakh Indian and 1.2 Lakh foreigners visited Kullu District in 2016 (3637233 in total) which was a 5% increase from 2015. In 2008, 20 Lakh Indians and nearly 1 Lakh foreigners visited Kullu District. In the last decade, from 2008 to 2017, number of foreigners visiting the valley has remained almost the same whereas domestic tourist numbers have increased manifolds.
Assuming 95% of them go to other parts of Kullu District and even if a meager 5% reach Kheer Ganga even that amounts to a whopping 181861 per year. Considering that most of the foreigners land in Parbati Valley for obvious reasons, it is safe to assume that atleast 200000 tourists land in Kheer Ganga annually.
Now tourism potential must be harnessed and more and more people should visit the valley. For a resource deprived state like ours, tourism could be a major boost to local economy. Cannabis Tourism works like an underground movement and invites scores of youngsters from every corner of the world which also adds to the coffers of the state in an indirect way. Wish our governments were ballsy enough to legalize cannabis but let’s save that discussion for some other time.
Now look at these three images:
As one can see, Kheer Ganga is under tremendous stress. And we have not even accounted for random shops built all along the trail. You side-step towards Tosh or Kalga, you’ll encounter a similar scenario. People are pouring in from every direction and 9 out of 10 people are fond of Maggie Noodles. People leave with happy memories of eating Maggie and clicking selfies while what remains behind is an absolute mess.
Have a look how our eating or drinking habits affect the mountains:
A 250ml Red Bull Can costs 100 and weighs approximately 300 grams.
Takes a minimum of 80 years to decay.
Mars Chocolate Bar costs 40 and weighs 20 grams.
The plastic wrapper takes a minimum of 10 years.
A disposable foam plastic cup weighs almost nothing. Costs nothing.
Takes a minimum of 50 years to decay.
These mountains need a healing touch. Healing Himalayas Foundation is organizing a clean-up drive on 27 October to free Kheer Ganga from non-biodegradable items before the season closes.
Previously, Healing Himalayas has successfully organized clean up campaigns at Bijli Mahadev, Manali, Jogini Waterfall, and the highest pilgrimage trail of Himachal; Srikhand Mahadev.
Healing Himalayas Foundation undertook cleaning exercises in Mansari, Karjan and Soyal Villages around Manali. Owing to the awareness campaign undertook by the foundation and interest shown by local stakeholders, traditional way of burning plastic open air is abolished in these villages for past one year.
Waste segregation and transporting it to government dump yards for proper incineration is being done for past one year. Earlier all the non biodegradable waste used to end up in river Beas through drains thus degrading water quality.
Imagine three less villages throwing their dump in the river.
The foundation intends to make use of waste plastic as furnace oil by 2018. The idea will be taken up at district level initially.
Pradeep Sangwan, one of the founder members of Healing Himalaya believes that faith does take us to heavenly abode of mountain Gods but the heavenly gates don’t open until the
path trail that leads you there is litter and plastic free.
Srikhand Mahadev Cleaning Drive – Healing Himalaya Foundation
Reporting Time: 4 PM.
Reporting Place: Manikaran
Reporting Date: 27 October, Friday
Contact Person: Pradeep Sangwan, 92786-26960
Its important that we humans own up our wrongdoings and take a proactive step to heal the mountains. Because if we don’t do it in time, Mother Nature triggers its own self-defense mechanism which doesn’t make a pleasant sight.