Amarnath Yatra and The Garbage Crisis


Mushtaq Pahalgami

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KL Images: Mushtaq Pahalgami
KL Images: Mushtaq Pahalgami

The garbage dump at lower Chandanwari or other padaws/stations from last one decade has become a painful sight for the last many years.

Given the huge assets, Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) could have erected gates in Pahalgam and Chandanwari. They, however, don’t get this simple machinery installed and instead dump garbage and untreated sewage in the Lidder or on its banks, subjecting the lives of locals to risk of water borne disease including Hepatitis-A&E.

Yatra Garbage

Secondly, lakhs of polythene bags and other plastic garbage are dumped at all stations during the Yatra every year,  including Chandanwari, Sheshnag, Panjtarni, Holy cave and Baltal ringing danger bells across the glacier region but the government or SASB has paid no heed to the problem.

Thirdly, the SASB erects temporary toilets along the Yatra trek route from Pahalgam upwards but these toilets neither have septic tanks nor soak pits and pose great threat of contamination to Lidder and Sind rivers with the sewage from these toilets being discharged in these rivers.

Yatra Tents at Pahalgam

Also the army units posted at Yatra camps or ROP sites have some 200-300 men posted there with only 3-4 toilets which cause a majority of them to defecate in the open thus further increasing adverse ecological pressure on these water bodies.

Fourth, why doesn’t the SASB buy modern machinery for garbage treatment despite income of Crores of rupees every year, and instead get the garbage dumped in wild pits which are eventually dug up by wild bears causing the waste to get washed into rivers and streams like Lidder, Sind and Sheshnag Nallah subsequently.

(Mushtaq Pahalgami is a social activists based in Pahalagm.)


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