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Source: The post is based on the article “More pilgrims than infra, waste disposal lacking: NGT panel on key pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand’s Char Dham trail” published in the Indian Express on 14th January 2023.
What is the News?
A Joint Committee, formed by the National Green Tribunal to investigate the “ecological damage in Uttarakhand’s sensitive areas” has found that the region lacks waste management infrastructure.
About the NGT Committee
The NGT on Urvashi Shobhna Kachari vs Union of India formed a committee to investigate the “ecological damage occurring near and around sacred pilgrim trails in sensitive and rich biodiversity regions of Uttarakhand.”
The committee surveyed four pilgrimage sites on the Char Dham trail – Kedarnath, Yamunotri, Gangotri and Hemkund Sahib.
The panel released a report titled ‘On ground evaluation of the issue of colossal environmental degradation in the prominent pilgrim track regions of Uttarakhand’.
About the Char Dham Yatra potential in Uttarakhand
The Char Dham Yatra is one of Uttarakhand’s highest job creators, generating an estimated Rs 1,100 crore with approximately 36 lakh pilgrims visiting Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri in 2019.
During the peak months of May and June, various small traders and other sellers make enough earnings to sustain themselves throughout the year.
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What are the findings of the report?
-As per the Uttarakhand Government report, coronavirus (Covid-19) has caused a loss of around Rs 200-250 crore to the hospitality industry in Uttarakhand, which contributes around 30% of the GDP of the state.
-There appeared to be more pilgrims than infrastructure for managing pilgrim traffic, solid garbage, plastic waste, and the manure of mules or horses.
-Equine entry on the trek routes was not regulated. Further, a large number of animals can cause ecological disturbance in pristine areas.
-Proper management and monitoring practices for equine health and facilities, solid waste management facilities were not available (except on the Gangotri-Gaumukh trek route).
-There has been no report or research done so far on the direct effect of tourist inflow on biodiversity loss in the areas concerned.