Jagatsukh, the former capital of Kullu has become a popular tourist destination. Located 12 km from Manali, it has tourists flocking in everyday.
The rising problem of waste
This has resulted in an increase in the waste accumulated on streets. The streets of Jagatsukh lack dustbins. This makes the tourists dispose their wrappers on the streets. Packets of chips, alcohol bottles and chocolate wrappers are a common sight. The growing pile of wrappers has caused serious damage to the drainage system of the village. Many drains have been clogged with these plastic wastes.
Manali is our starting point for a lot of treks in Himachal like the Hampta Pass and the Bhrigu Lake trek. An approximate 3000+ trekkers hiked the Hampta Pass and Brighu lake trail just this season. Imagine the amount of waste these 3000+ trekkers must have generated.
The town’s waste disposal system is almost non-existent. Most of Jagatsukh’s waste is disposed by the river banks instead of going to the landfills. As the river swells up it sweeps all the waste docked on the banks downstream which contaminates the water. This is a big problem!
Picking up waste from the streets is only a temporary solution. Hence, our interns are working relentlessly towards designing a more sustainable solution.
What Indiahikes decided to do about it
In the meantime, the Indiahikes staff couldn’t bear the sight of these waste mountains and took matters into their own hands. They decided to clean the streets themselves.
We had 12 members from Indiahikes (both trek leaders and kitchen staff), two Green Trails interns and 23 women from the Mahila Mandal get together to put an end to the waste epidemic.
They began the cleanup activity by clearing out the waste thrown on the main road and slowly moved into the streets. They also made it a point to clean the areas around the primary government school to set an example for the children.
Trek Leader Himanshu says, “The women here are very progressive. They want to grow along with the rest of the village and believe this is possible by bettering living conditions.”
Together they cleared a whopping 485 kg of waste!
This waste was further segregated into recyclable and non-recyclable waste. We were left with 15 kg of recyclable waste and 470 kg of non-recyclable waste.
The non-recyclable waste was loaded onto a truck and transported to the Manali landfill. The recyclable waste was given to kabadiwallahs.
In addition to the cleanup , our Green Trails interns, Himanshu and Abhinav posted posters on waste segregation all over town. They stuck these posters near the bus stands, restaurants and distributed the rest to passers by on the streets of Jagatsukh. The idea is to keep spread more awareness regarding the need to segregate waste.
We did our bit by cleaning up and we urge you to do your bit to help keep the mountains clean.
How to be a responsible tourist
Try carrying as little or no packaged products into the mountains.
For instance, most tourists buy new toothpastes and toothbrushes for their trip. These products remain sealed in packages. Instead of carrying sealed products into the mountains you can remove the seals and dispose them at home instead of doing so in the mountains. The same can be done with other packaged products.
If you consume alcohol then you must make it a point to not throw the empty bottles on the street. Instead, give them to kabadiwallahs who will recycle them.
It is important to adopt responsible behaviour when travelling into sacred lands. I request each one of you to act more responsibly.