Heaps of plastic waste, garbage piles up in Kedarnath

As the ongoing Char Dham Yatra has witnessed an increase in the number of pilgrims in the state, heaps of plastic waste and rubbish were seen piled up on the stretch leading to Kedarnath, a major place of worship in the yatra.

ANI news agency tweeted a photo of numerous tents spread over large swathes of land which are completely littered with discarded plastic items such as bags and bottles, as well as other trash, giving them the appearance of a huge dump.

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“The influx of tourists has increased in several ways due to the increase in plastic waste as we do not have proper sanitation facilities. This has affected the natural vegetation. Medicinal plants are also disappearing,” the manager said. from the Higher Himalayan Plant Research Institute (HAPREC), Professor MC Nautiyal, who has studied climate change and the herbs of the high Himalayan regions.

The garbage heap in the Kedarnath region destroys the valuable herbs here. Among the most important herbs, several of them have disappeared here, including Jatamasi, Atish, Barmala, Kakoli and other herbs, he added.

Limitation of the number of pilgrims

To ensure transparent and proper arrangements for pilgrims, the number of pilgrims to Badrinath has been set at 16,000 per day, Kedarnath 13,000, Gangotri 8,000 and Yamunotri and Hemkund Sahib 5,000 each.

Another expert, Prof. MS Negi, Head of Department of Geography, Central Garhwal University, said, “We are witnessing record high devotees in the state these days due to Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra. Most devotees arrive at Kedarnath. Businessmen and government get good revenue from the large number of pilgrims reaching Kedarnath Dham. But at the same time, ever-increasing human activity in Kedarnath has become a major threat to the environment.

“The way plastic waste has accumulated in a sensitive place like Kedarnath is dangerous for our ecology. This will lead to erosion which can cause landslides. We must bear in mind the tragedy of 2013 and remain cautious,” Negi said.

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Char Dham Yatra

This Yatra or pilgrimage is a visit to four sacred sites – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – nestled high in the Himalayas. In Hindi, “char” means four and “dham” refers to religious destinations. The opening of Gangotri and Yamunotri marks the beginning of the Uttarakhand Char Dham yatra.

Bryce K. Locke