Tourist trash worries green warriors in Himachal
Days after Himachal Pradesh government eased restrictions, the tourist destinations are witnessing heavy influx
Days after Himachal Pradesh government eased restrictions, the tourist destinations are witnessing heavy influx. The weekend arrivals led to traffic jams at the interstate barrier in Parwanoo as people from Delhi, NCR, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan make a beeline for the state. Hotels and home stays in key destinations reported almost full occupancy.
The tourist influx has also brought the perennial issues back. Hotels in Shimla, Dharamshala, Manali and Dalhousie were full to the capacity this weekend too. “Nearly 20,0000 vehicles entered Himachal from Parwanoo on the weekend,” said Parwanoo DSP Yogesh Rolta said.
The mad rush to the hills has led to accumulation of plastic, bottles, garbage and liquor bottles in parks, forests and serene areas by both locals and tourists.
Heaps of garbage can be seen in the Western Himalayan Park, Glen Nature Park and Natural Trail, Kufri hills, Mashobra, and Naldehra surrounding Shimla. Similar trash mounds are also visible at other hill stations.
As the mountain of waste grows bigger and bigger, locals in Shimla have demanded strict action against the people who do not follow rules. They alleged that the authorities have taken a soft approach towards such people.
They also demanded that the government should launch an awareness drive about sensitisation and proper disposal of waste.
Locals said monitoring of tourists entering the state should be done by installation of CCTV cameras and Aadhaar linkage.
“Tourists are coming in large numbers to hills after the government lifted Covid curbs. Nearly 5,000 to 7,500 vehicles are entering Shimla,” said Karan Nanda, a local. “It is painful to see that the tourists are littering in open, ruining the beauty of the hills where they come to enjoy,” he said.
Inappropriate behaviour and littering also has raised fresh concerns among environmentalists. “This was destined to happen. If a pandemic can’t wake us up, nothing ever will. I urge local communities and stakeholders to be more vigilant as they are the recipients and payers eventually. Our five years’ worth work is being undone within a few days as we miss the synergy between ecology and economy,” said Pradeep Sangwan, founder of Healing Himalayas, an NGO that works on projects focused on clean-up drives, waste management, and circular economy through waste collection centres.
“I had come here to enjoy the beauty of the hills after remaining in lockdown for long. However, what bother me are the heaps of garbage here and there. This is unethical. People should realise their responsibility towards the nature,” said Vipin, a tourist from Haryana.
Another tourist, Tinku, said the hills are always mesmerising but the plastic waste and liquor bottles littered around are ruining what nature offers.
Some of the locals also complained that many tourists were flouting Covid safety norms by not wearing masks properly.