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Char Dham Yatra: Environmentalists Flag Concerns Over Threat To Uttarakhand’s Exotic Herbs

With an increase in tourism activities in the state, heaps of plastic waste and garbage have been seen piled up on the stretch leading to Kedarnath, a prominent place of worship in the yatra

Char Dham Yatra: Environmentalists Flag Concerns Over Threat To Uttarakhand's Exotic Herbs
The way plastic garbage has piled up in a sensitive place like Kedarnath is hazardous for our ecology, says Professor MS Negi, Head of the Department of Geography, Garhwal Central University
Highlights
  • Scientists have expressed concerns over the accumulation of waste
  • Garbage heap in Kedarnath area is destroying herbs: Professor MC Nautiyal
  • “Among the prominent herbs, several of them have gone extinct here”

Dehradun: With a large number of pilgrims taking part in the ongoing Char Dham Yatra, experts have warned of a serious environmental threat amid threat to the state’s exotic herbs which are facing extinction. Further, with an increase in tourism activities in the state, heaps of plastic waste and garbage have been seen piled up on the stretch leading to Kedarnath, a prominent place of worship in the yatra. The director of the Higher Plant Himalayan Research Institute (HAPREC), Professor MC Nautiyal, who has researched the climate change and herbs of the high Himalayan regions, said,

Over the past several days, Kedarnath is witnessing an increasing human activity. At the same time, the garbage heap in the Kedarnath area is destroying the valuable herbs here. Among the prominent herbs, several of them have gone extinct here, including Jatamasi, Atish, Barmala, Kakoli and other herbs. All this is because of severe climate change coupled up with increasing human activities in the region.

Also Read: Abundant, Affordable Solutions Exist Across Sectors, Development Doesn’t Have To Be Carbon Intensive: IPCC

“The tourist inflow has risen manifold due to which plastic garbage has increased as we don’t have proper sanitation facilities. This has affected the natural vegetation. Medicinal plants are getting extinct as well,” he said.

Another expert, Professor MS Negi, Head of the Department of Geography, Garhwal Central University, said,

We are witnessing record-breaking devotees in the state these days due to Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra. Most of the devotees are reaching Kedarnath. Businessmen and the government are getting good income due to a large number of pilgrims reaching Kedarnath Dham. But at the same time, the ever-increasing human activity in Kedarnath has become a major threat to the environment.

“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 and remain careful,” Professor Negi said.

Scientists have expressed concerns over the accumulation of plastic and other waste. The head of the Department of Geography of Garhwal Central University, MS Negi, who does research in the Himalayan regions, told ANI that the garbage in Kedarnath is a big threat.

At the same time, people associated with the tourism department also say that Kedarnath Yatra is very important from an economic point of view.

Uttarakhand, also known as Devbhoomi or the Land of Gods, is home to numerous temples and welcomes devotees all year round. Among the countless religious sites and circuits that devotees visit in Uttarakhand, one of the most prominent is the Char Dham Yatra. This Yatra or pilgrimage is a tour of four holy sites – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – nestled high up in the Himalayas. In Hindi, ‘char’ means four and ‘dham’ refers to religious destinations.

The opening of Gangotri and Yamunotri marks the commencement of the Uttarakhand Char Dham yatra.

Also Read: India Firmly Believes In Fulfilling Its Climate Commitments Made Under UN Framework: Union Minister Smriti Irani

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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