'Garbage has piled up…': Experts worry over pollution on Char Dham Yatra route | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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'Garbage has piled up…': Experts worry over pollution on Char Dham Yatra route

May 22, 2022 12:02 PM IST

Char Dham Yatra: Tens of thousands visit shrines every day, creating piles of garbage - including plastic bags and bottles.

Over eight lakh pilgrims have undertaken the Char Dham yatrain Uttarakhand so far this year, news agency ANI reported Sunday. Coming from across the country and the world, they have visitedthe shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, and lakhs more have registered. These lakhs bring much-needed revenue to the state's coffers, but also bring something sinister and dangerous - tons of garbage, specifically plastic bags and wrappers that threaten the environment.

char dham yatra uttarakhand plastic pollution (Credit: ANI)
char dham yatra uttarakhand plastic pollution (Credit: ANI)

Visuals shared by ANI show large stretches of what are usually beautiful rolling green hills with majestic snow-capped mountains in the background.

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Only now these are littered with discarded plastic items, like bags and bottles, and other waste materials that make it look like a city garbage dump.

And this has left scientists and environmental experts worried, not just because of the pollution but also because of the impact on a state prone to natural disasters like landslides.

"The way plastic garbage has piled up in a sensitive place like Kedarnath is hazardous for our ecology. It'll lead to erosion which can cause landslides. We must keep in mind tragedy of 2013," professor MS Negi, head of the geography department at Garhwal Central University, told ANI.

In June 2013 a cloudburst led to devastating floods and landslides across Uttarakhand - it was India's worst natural disaster since the tsunami that struck coastal communities along the Bay of Bengal in 2004.

And it isn't just pollution and natural disasters that threaten the state.

Professor MC Nautiyal, director of the High Altitude Plant Physiology Research Centre in Uttarakhand, told ANI: "Tourist inflow has risen manifold due to which plastic garbage has increased… we don't have proper sanitation facilities. This has affected natural vegetation. Medicinal plants are getting extinct."

Tens of thousands of pilgrims visit each of the shrines every day; up to 16,000 can visit Badrinath per day, 13,000 at Kedarnath, 8,000 at Gangotri, and 5,000 each at Yamunotri and Hemkund Sahib. All of this adds up to a horrifying amount of garbage - plastic and other waste materials.

With input from ANI

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