This year, the massive uptick in the number of pilgrims at the Char Dham Yatra is not just a headache for authorities but is also leaving huge garbage trails at the holy destination. As per the latest reports, the trails to the holy sites have been littered with plastic bags to other garbage materials, as lakhs of pilgrimages visit Char Dham, which was recently opened to the devotees after a grab of two years amid the COVID outbreak.
Holy Sites Turn Garbage Dumpards
In just the first 13 days of the start of the pilgrimage in Uttarakhand, more than 500,000 devotees have already visited the Char Dham shrines, and over a million have registered themselves to visit as well.
However, those pilgrims are leaving behind what numerous in the Uttarakhand administration are labelling as "a mountain of waste" for the locals to clean afterwards. In fact, over the past 15 days, Kedarnath alone has seen 2. 35 lakh pilgrims visit the holy site. According to the officials, the solid waste generation at just Kedarnath, which is one of the four dhams, went up from 5,000 kg to 10,000 kg every day.
Ashok Singhania, the supervisor of the cleanliness drive at Kedarnath, has stated: "We are digging seven feet deep pits and burying small biscuit packets and tobacco wrappers near Gaurikund while other wastes are being sent to plains for proper disposal."
As per authorities, the number of pilgrims is set to surpass all previous records if the weather remains favourable.
"The way plastic garbage has piled up in a sensitive place like Kedarnath is hazardous for our ecology. It'll lead to erosion which can cause landslides. We must keep in mind the tragedy of 2013 & remain careful," the Department of Geography at the Garhwal Central University, Professor MS Negi, was quoted as saying by ANI.
Plastic is banned at Badrinath, so devotees are not carrying sheets to cover themselves. However, controlling the usage of plastic bottles remains a massive challenge for local authorities. Approximately 8,000 kg of solid waste accumulates daily at the two other dhams of Yamunotri and Gangotri in the district of Uttarkashi.
Furthermore, the shrine also shares its territory with the Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary too. Experts have claimed that the amount of waste generated daily contaminates the local ecology and puts- ting wildlife at risk.
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