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Palampur: Getaway for weekend, waste for centuries

In Kangra hills, the average tourist leaves behind at least 3-4 kg trash

Palampur: Getaway for weekend, waste for centuries

Littering of garbage is becoming increasingly common for areas in the Kangra Valley, especially those frequented by tourists.

Ravinder Sood

Palampur, March 26

Garbage littered around is becoming an increasingly common sight in the higher reaches of the Dhauladhar hills — such as Bir Billing, Rajgundha, Multhan, etc. Often, this garbage is thrown by tourists and trekkers while on their trips to these high hills. This puts these areas in ecological danger as most of this waste is plastic, which take years, if not centuries, to break down.

Experts and activists expressed concern over this menace and demanded proper monitoring by the authorities concerned.

During a visit to Bir Billing and other hills of the Kangra Valley, the average tourist generates a minimum of 3-4 kg waste. During the peak tourist season this year, over 5,00,000 tourists and pilgrims are likely to visit the valley, including its half dozen shrines.

With summer breaks expected in the plains after mid-May, a manifold increase in tourist footfall is likely to be experienced. Local environmentalists are calling for the government to launch initiatives to educate tourists and pilgrims using pamphlets educating them to not to litter plastic and other waste in the green hills, water channels and roadsides of the state. These pamphlets should be distributed at the borders, one environmentalist adds.

“Thousands of tonnes of waste is generated during the summers by pilgrims in addition to the day-to-day waste generated by people living in these areas and other travellers going for treks. There is, however, no system in the hill state to properly dispose of this waste,” said K B Ralhan, a local environmentalist and the convenor of NGO People’s Voice.

Tourists from adjoining areas — such as Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and Chandigarh — flock to the hills of the Kangra Valley for a weekend getaway, often leaving behind a trail of trash that mars both the beauty and the ecology of the hills. According to area residents, heaps of garbage such as plastic packets, water bottles and foils can be spotted in upper areas of Palampur, Baijnath, and Bir Billing. Palampur Municipal Corporation Councillor Anish Nag said in the last couple of days, he and his team of volunteers from the Bundla Youth Club had removed hundreds of empty liquor bottles and plastic junk from the Neugal River, forests, roadsides and water channels.

Palampur Mayor Gopal Nag said state agencies must come forward to help the municipal corporation, panchayats and local NGOs that are involved in their mission to keep Kangra Valley clean and green .“Sustaining the biodiversity of the area is not possible without the cooperation of tourists. It is really unfortunate that some visitors lack civic sense and throw away plastic items in forests, rivers, and rivulets after use,” he added.

Environmentalist groups like People’s Voice and Dhauladhar Seva Samiti, on the other hand, claim that key areas are not adequately monitored by the officials concerned.

#Kangra #Palampur

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