The Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB) for the first time will install mobile and prefabricated toilets for pilgrims and tourists en route to the Chardhams.
These public lavatories will come up at Rishikesh, which serves as a gateway to the four shrines, and a few in Dehradun as well.
But the concern is waste disposal. These toilets have a tank to store waste which will be taken to the nearest sewage treatment plant. However, there are questions regarding the feasibility of disposing waste daily during peak of the yatra season.
The pilgrimage begins on April 28 with the opening of Gangotri-Yamunotri portals followed by Kedarnath on May 3 and Badrinath on May 6.
“Many a time, the sewage is dumped in manholes rather than taking it all the way to the treatment plant. That is also an option, though not advisable. But it reaches the plant at the end,” SS Rana, regional officer Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB), told Hindustan Times.
Currently, two sewage treatment plants operate in the Dehradun-Haridwar bypass and the Mothrawala Road.
“The high court gave legal status to rivers and water bodies as living entities. No one can flout the order. The agencies should be encouraged to reach the treatment plant rather than dumping waste in manholes,” Ashok Kumar Kakkar, who runs private SJS Sewer Tanks, said.
While mobile toilets come with six or eight seats. prefabricated toilets have a limited capacity for one person at a time. “Both these toilets are movable and will be installed according to footfall. They will function by the first week of May,” SS Samant, UTDB in-charge of infrastructure on Char Dham route, told Hindustan Times.
The Board has already installed 176 flexi toilets on the route to the four shrines. Similar lavatories will come up at 184 spots on Kedanrath route and 17 on Hemkund Sahib route. These toilets were made by NGO Sulabh International. The NGO will also provide 234 staff, including sweepers and supervisors, for maintenance of these toilets.