Srinagar 2013 is not Srinagar 2011. It is a significantly cleaner version. It also has much fewer plastic bags, almost none, compared to 2011.
I found this trend worth exploring, because apart from Himachal, most mountainous regions with hordes of tourists complain that such tourists leave behind a coat of plastic bags on the mountains.
In Uttaranchal, for example, few landscapes are free of the colourful dot of a polymer. Srinagar’s municipality understands that local vendors also sell goods in plastic bags to local residents. It looks at the inside.
What the team in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation does is combining awareness with confiscating plastic bags. Two entire storerooms are filled with plastics, and few stores still use them.
Many claim the bags are banned and offer alternatives. Fruit vendors resolutely argue with tourists that they cannot give out plastic bags because they will be in trouble. The challenge now is what to do with these bags, so they are not reused.
The story in Kathgodam, Sattal, Jageshwar and other areas of Uttaranchal is different. The local bodies just don’t go out and act strongly enough, despite national legislation. Shopkeepers are amused at the idea of being stopped and dismiss any long term, permanent action.
Yet, Uttaranchal has what Srinagar has only periodically-peace. It also has famous schools, lot of hotels and tourism agencies who want to make the change, wastepickers who collect the waste and kabaris who are willing to buy the. They need to now get cracking.