Gopeshwar, Aug 4: Underlining the need to regulate tourism in grasslands of Uttarakhand, noted environmentalist Chandiprasad Bhatt has said pilgrims going on Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra this year should be made aware of the threat posed by unplanned tourist activities to these grasslands.
"Unregulated and unplanned tourism in recent years is posing a great threat to Himalayan grasslands. "There is an urgent need to create awareness among tourists about the ecological sensitivity of these grasslands and a beginning in this direction can be made with those undertaking the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra," Bhatt said addressing a two-day seminar on saving Himalayan grasslands at Bacher, about 17 kms from here yesterday.
The yatra is a pilgrimage undertaken on foot every 12 years through the picturesque hill districts of Uttarakhand and is scheduled to begin this year on August 18. "Grasslands are part of the unique geographical constitution of the Himalayas. Located at a height of 10,000 ft to 14,000 ft, these sloping meadows serve not only as a treasure house of rare herbs but also as active aquifers through which rainwater percolates down to recharge the groundwater system," said Bhatt who was recently awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize.
"The Himalayan grasslands have the amazing capacity to soak large quantities of rainwater and keep the flow of streams in the valleys and low-lying areas relentless," he said. Residents of the villages located close to the grasslands can play a vital role in educating tourists about the ill effects of unregulated tourism on grasslands, he said. The seminar attended by environmental scientists, social activists and panchayat representatives focused on framing an effective strategy to save the grasslands from the baleful impact of unregulated tourism.