Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We've been banned!!

There are too many tourists heading to Gangotri, Valley of Flowers and highly eco-sensitive zones of the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand.

According to a rough estimate, thousands of pilgrims, who visit the hill state during the Kumbh, Chardham and Kanwar and other religious congregations, travel to these areas leaving heaps of non-degradable waste, including plastic, which are hazardous to environment. The Centre has decided to ban 2 key hydropower projects in the region last month and the state government has decided not to allow tourists to come near the Gaumukh glacier, the origin of the Ganga in Uttarkashi district.

In 2008, the government had restricted the number of tourists visiting Gaumukh and other Gangotri glaciers to only 150 per day. Another move is afoot to even restrict the number of tourists to 100 in future. According to a report of the Dehra Dun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), the glaciers are melting at a rate of 17-23 metres per year. The issue had become more contentious in the wake of controversy surround the inter-governmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Similarly, the government is trying to put restrictions on pilgrims to Hemkund Sahib and other shrines which are close to the Valley of Flowers, a world heritage site. Thousands of Sikhs travel every year to Hemkund Sahib, which is situated in an area known for its rich flora and fauna, and leave huge waste. The government had restricted the entry of tourists to the 14-km long area of the Nandadevi Biosephere Reserve few years ago. The government is also planning to carry a renewed campaign through tourist brochures and media telling travelers to remain sensitive to these areas with the slogan: “Leave only footprints and take only memories.” Why does it seem like we are irresponsible kids instead of thinking adults?

Tip of the day: Recycle your recyclables. It is one of the main steps to a greener you and a better life :)

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