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Alarming New Report Paints a Picture of the Damage Caused to Himalayan States by Tourism Influx

The barely 10 sq km Leh town saw a total of 20,918 quintals of waste — both biodegradable and non-biodegradable — generated in just 11 months, from June 2021 to April 2022. However, only 1,387 quintal waste, including plastic bottles, multi-layer plastics, cardboards, tin, etc., were sold for reuse, while 19,531 quintal waste was deposited at the municipal processing site.

Reason: The increasing tourist inflow in the fragile trans-Himalayan landscape. Due to improving and affordable connectivity, particularly air travel, the tourism sector is booming in India, and there has been an immense growth in infrastructure. However, not all growth has been sustainable, and the tourists’ have not precisely helped in economic prosperity, rather caused trouble for the local landscape and biodiversity.

These are the findings of a damning report, ‘Environmental Assessment of Tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region’, submitted to the Environment Ministry in compliance with a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order. The report, submitted earlier this month, was prepared by Govind Ballabh Pant, National Institute of Himalayan Environment (NIHE), Almora.

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 came up with some common actions/suggestions for the entire Indian Himalayan Region (IHR).

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