Friday, August 19, 2022

Tourists have been degrading Himalayan states

The report, submitted earlier this month, reported IANS, mentioned that the barely 10 sq km Leh town saw a total of 20,918 quintals waste – both biodegradable and non-biodegradable – generated in just 11 months from June 2021 till April 2022

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A report prepared by Govind Ballabh Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment (NIHE), Almora, titled ‘Environmental Assessment of Tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region’, submitted to the Environment Ministry in compliance with a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order has pointed out how the influx of tourists have degraded the Himalayan states. The report, submitted earlier this month, reported IANS, mentioned that the barely 10 sq km Leh town saw a total of 20,918 quintals waste – both biodegradable and non-biodegradable – generated in just 11 months from June 2021 till April 2022. However, of that, only 1,387 quintal waste – plastic bottles, multi-layer plastics, cardboards, tin, etc., were sold for reuse while 19,531 quintal waste was deposited at the municipal processing site.

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Estimation of tourist carrying capacity,

  • Promotion of green tourism,

  • Green-premium tax on tourists, carbon taxes, bio-fuel subsidies, vehicle purchase subsidies,

  • Planning and zoning restrictions, restriction on use of vehicles in eco-sensitive areas,

  • Feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, establishment of proper waste segregation and management systems in tourist spots, and

  • Establishment of eco-friendly bio-digester toilets in high altitude trek routes, etc.

Reason that was cited was the increasing number of tourists to the fragile trans-Himalayan landscape. Tourism has increased due to improving and affordable connectivity. The tourists have not boosted economic prosperity and have also caused trouble for local landscape and biodiversity.

The report assessed the UT of Ladakh, UT of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal Hills & Darjeeling, Assam Hills, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya – for tourist numbers, municipal facilities for waste treatment, air and water quality and biodiversity listing, etc.

The report had some suggestions that included estimation of tourist carrying capacity, promotion of green tourism, green-premium tax on tourists, carbon taxes, bio-fuel subsidies, vehicle purchase subsidies, planning and zoning restrictions, restriction on use of vehicles in eco-sensitive areas, feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, establishment of proper waste segregation and management systems in tourist spots, establishment of eco-friendly bio-digester toilets in high altitude trek routes, etc.

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Tirthankar Ghosh
Tirthankar Ghosh is a senior journalist and presently Managing Editor, Newsline Publications. He has also been writing for well over 15 years for the New York-based Air Cargo News Flying Typers.

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