Why ALTOA Member’s Facebook Attack Is Vicious And Damaging

Recently one of the members of ALTOA (All Ladakh Travel Operators Association) published a very damaging article about Indiahikes on Facebook. Predictably the internet world went viral with it.

What’s not amusing about the story is that it is complete fabrication.

In his post the member wrote:

Altoa

“INDIA HIKES, a Bangalore base travel Company is making Ladakh,a area of Garbage basin, This company is running Chadar trek since two years with cheapest cost and making Chadar trek a area of Human waste area. They use green Plastic bag for human waste collection and throws in the river and surrounding area, making whole surrounding and environment polluted with green bag containing human waste. ALL LADAKH TOUR OPERATORS ASSOCIATION, LEH Inspected this area and found the whole area filth and polluted. They pitched toilet tents in the river bed and thus again polluting the river and stream extremely undrinkable for human being. We request everyone to share this message and discourage good human being and responsible traveler to not to join this company for Ladakh Tour from 2014 onward.Photo by Dorjey Daya.”

Find the  original facebook post here.

The reality is Indiahikes is perhaps the only organization that has done anything to save the fragile ecosystem of the Chadar. Indiahikes introduced the concept of bio-degradable bags to defecate. These bio-degradable bags are made of 100% corn starch. They degrade in a month leaving no trace. It is a terrific innovation combined with the introduction of camp toilet seats.

Trekkers can not only defecate in comfort and complete hygiene, there is also no trace of sight or smell. The system also ensures that the waste does not pollute the environment. The waste collected in the bio bags are buried in earth for natural decomposition. They decompose within a month even in the extreme cold conditions of the Chadar trek.

What is the reality of events? On the Chadar trek, after trek leaders Saranbir and Rashish had buried the bio-bags and left the camp, they were dug up again (gross!). A few hours later when trek leader Pradeep arrived with his team, members of ALTOA raised a hue and cry about bio bags lying around.  They threatened Pradeep and made him sign a letter of acceptance (threatening they would disrupt the trek).

bio-4 bio-2 bio-6

 

We want to reiterate a point here, incase you have missed the significance. The bio-bags were dug up again after they were buried! This is an atrocious and criminal act. Why would someone do this?

We strongly condemn this action. This has been a very damaging exercise by some members of ALTOA and brings ALTOA’s credibility in question.

We are here for the mountains and our trekkers vouch for that. We are committed to our green trail efforts. We will continue with our efforts. We have not only brought in innovation like the bio-bags, but every trekker of Indiahikes is now issued Eco-bags to bring back litter.

But frankly, these malicious postings by ALTOA members are not amusing any more.

If ALTOA is keen on the environment we have a few questions to ask:

  1.  As ALTOA what have you done to protect Chadar’s environment? Apparently, you collect Rs 100 per trekker from every organization for this purpose. From some organization you collect more. How was this used on the Chadar? Can any trekker vouch for it (trekked with or without Indiahikes)?
  2. If you are so keen on the environment how come no one has heard of your environmental efforts during the Stok Kangri, Markha valley or any trek in Ladakh (not conducted by Indiahikes)? Are you interested in the environment or your business interest?
  3. If environment is your concern, don’t you think joining hands with organizations like Indiahikes in collaboration is more productive?
  4. How come in your post you mention words like “cheapest”? “Cheap” is an opinion. If trekkers have been paying ridiculous amount like a lakh for Chadar then you have been overcharging. Indiahikes has helped rationalise the cost. Even at our fee of Rs 22,950 we feel Chadar is a very expensive trek.

 

Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking, he leads Indiahikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India. He has written extensively for Discover India magazine and is a TedX speaker. Read Arjun's other articles. Watch Arjun's TedX talk. Watch Arjun speak about our trekking trails. Learn from Arjun about what it's like to work at Indiahikes.

4 thoughts on “Why ALTOA Member’s Facebook Attack Is Vicious And Damaging

  1. I salute India Hikes for all its efforts and indeed Arjun and his team have made an amazingly positive contribution to the ethos & quality of tekking standards in India. As an Alumni of the Nehru Mountaneering Institute, I have utmost confidence in India Hikes and wish the very best!

  2. I’ve trekked with IndiaHikes just once to Roopkund, and forget about defecating in the open, our trek leaders discouraged us from even throwing plastic bottles anywhere on the trek. They only let us throw “the biodegradable waste”. And every trekker is strongly encouraged to carry an ECO bag to collect the plastic waste (either from the trekkers, or the waste already on the slopes).
    And the article from ALTOA claims “defecating”. It is totally preposterous! I noticed that Stok Kangri trek is still on offer by Trek the Himalayas. While, I understand it’s a business decision on their part and they are well within their “rights” to keep the trek on, I reckon all trek companies should join hands together against the mafia and cut their illicit livelihood to ensure fair play. This could happen anywhere in India where you might expect a strong nexus between the mafia and the local politicians willing to extort money from the same tourists who are perhaps the biggest contributors to the local economy of the community they represent. We’ve heard similar instances of violence against Uber drivers in Kochi, and it’s important to confront the goons to put an end to the anarchy.

    My faith too lies with IndiaHikes, and I really hope that better sense prevails!

  3. I have done Tarsar Marsar trek with India hikes and still cherish the beautiful memories of the trek, the spirit with which the trek was conducted. All the members of the trek were like family and got connected with one other so well. I was not in the best of fitness at that time but my life has taken a big change after the trek . After Tarsar Marsar , which was my first trek, I have done 8 more treks after that . I worked on regular basis to improve my fitness levels and in these two years i have turned myself to be a Marathon runner & done 5 marathons since then and still going , so much so that running has become part of my life. I owe a big credit to the first trek Of Tarsar Marsar through which only the awareness & passion for fitness has come about . Big thanks to India Hikes

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