Even as the authorities focussed on clearing the vast quantity of garbage generated by a wedding programme held by South African businessmen brothers at Auli, a group of students have elicited focus on a more alarming situation of garbage being dumped routinely near the Lokpal lake also known as the Hemkund lake near Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara in Chamoli district.
Due to unregulated flow of visitors and ineffective waste management in this ecologically fragile region, considerable quantities of non-biodegradable and biodegradable garbage dumped just near the glacial lake have formed a heap of waste and this garbage is also polluting the Laksman Ganga river which originates from this glacial lake.
JP Maithani of Alaknanda Ghaati Shilpi (AAGAAS) Federation, a grassroots voluntary organisation working in the central Himalayan region said that recently a student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and two students of the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design (IICD), Jaipur undertook a journey to the high altitude biodiversity rich regions in Chamoli district.
Harikrishna DV from TISS was studying the ecology of the region while Poonam Pallavi and Aditya Shridhar from IICD had gone to observe the biodiversity to incorporate such aspects in handicrafts design.
While observing the natural beauty, rich biodiversity and unique features of the Himalayan environment in the higher altitudes, the group also got to see the results of indiscriminate flow of visitors to ecologically sensitive regions and non-existent implementation of regulations meant to protect the environment.
According to Maithani, the students also saw Bhojpatra trees stripped of their bark outside the Valley of Flowers.
On reaching Hemkund Sahib, the youth came across mounds of garbage piled near the glacial lake which is also the source of the Lakshman Ganga river. Maithani said, “Discarded undergarments, aluminium cans, plastic bottles, tetra packs and raincoats (made from single-use polythene) have been dumped near the glacial lake by the visitors. The Lakshman Ganga river is being polluted at its very source apart from the ecological damage being caused in this fragile environment,” said Maithani.
Despite repeated attempts to contact the Chamoli district magistrate, she was unavailable for comments.
However, local activists express concern not only at the garbage piling up in such an environmentally fragile and sacred place but also at the efficiency of garbage disposal by the eco development committees in the valley.
Located at an altitude of about 4,329 metres, Hemkund Sahib is visited by many thousands of people during the six-month period it remains open to the public. Situated near an ancient Lakshman temple, this Gurudwara is said to be the highest altitude Gurudwara in the world.
Friday, 05 July 2019 | PNS | Dehradun
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