Leh (Ladakh), May 16 : Though adventure tourism has proved to be a money-spinner in Ladakh, it has also caused a major environment hazard. It is so because of the tons of garbage left behind by trekkers.
Tonnes of garbage in the form of polythene bags, soft drink cans etc. are left behind in the pristine countryside by trekkers.
Keeping this in mind, the Wildlife Department and Youth Association for Conservation and Development, a forum of youth in Hemis National Park, conducted a 10-day clean up and awareness drive between Chilling and Nimalung in Markha Valley.
The Wildlife Warden of Ladakh region, Jigmet Thakpa said that they plan more such drives.
"We are carrying out this cleaning drive here with the help of Youth Association for Development and Conservation of Hemis National Park. Our staff and our guards all are helping the Department in collection, education and disposal," said Jigmet Thakpa, Regional Wildlife Warden, Ladakh Region.
"Moreover the youth and women association here have also helped us very much. So it has been a very good learning process. We are planning to make it a regular phenomenon in near future," Thakpa added.
The 12-member cleaning drive team, collected objects like silver foil used to carry lunch, discarded pouches of Fruity drink, Coca Cola and Pepsi cans, beer bottles, mushroom and tuna fish tins all over the entire trekking stretch in Markha Valley.
The garbage was deposited at Chilling Trolley Point from where it was lifted by the Wildlife Department people.
"A few years back, garbage cleaning was done by some travel agency. But after that we, the villagers, started collecting garbage and stored at one place and the glass bottles were recycled by us. The rest we used to burn, now you can see we did manage to collect more then 700 to 800 kilograms of garbage from these trekking routes. We are planning to set up a check post to stop usage of plastic items by the trekkers," said Skarma, Nambardar, Markha.
The drive's main objective was to draw attention towards the environmental hazards caused by rubbish dumped by trekking groups and to take care of the rapidly growing garbage menace along this popular route.
"Markha Valley is famous for trekking because of that we are facing lot of problems posed by this garbage strewn all over by the people. Sometimes livestock from our villages eat that and die. Now the youth association has educated all villagers about the waste management and how to salvage these things and even recycle for usage," said Dorjey Gyalsion, a member in Kaya village.
As for the youth participating in this clean-up drive, they were paid for their yeoman's service in the cause of clean Nature.
Through such constant cleaning drives villagers have realised that it would need more than just cleaning as such the youth fora and villagers have planned to try and convince the local authorities to issue directives to travel agencies and implement them.
The volunteers wanted that the trekkers should be asked to bring back the garbage along with them on their return journey from their hike. By Jigmet Angchuk