India needs to implement sustainable tourism to protect ecology

 Wednesday, May 29, 2019 


According to media reports, Nepal granted a record 381 permits to climb the mountain this year. But, at least, double the number of people were on the slopes, since the figure does not include guides. Second, poor weather cut short the period in which the peak could be climbed, leaving mountaineers waiting in long queues to the summit.


Mountaineering is big business in Nepal; each permit this season costs $11,000.


The rush for adventure and tourism in the Himalayas, the water tower of Asia, comes at a huge environmental cost. In the first two weeks of May, volunteers collected three metric tonnes of garbage from the Everest. The Indian Himalayas is very popular with trekkers and tourists, and is equally dirty.


On 2018 World Environment Day (June 5), volunteers gathered four lakh pieces of plastic waste in a two-hour operation from 13 Himalayan states in India. Recklessness and unconcern have laid waste to our environment and natural beauty. The stunning Rann of Kutch in Gujarat is facing a huge challenge from tourists because they insist on driving SUVs on the fragile milky white sand desert, destroying the landscape and disturbing precious animals and birds. All but the most remote parts of Ladakh have been ruined by bikers. Most of our beaches have been despoiled.


We will pay the price, both environmentally and economically. If India is keen to keep its ecology in good shape for future generations, it must implement two things: One, start calculating the carrying capacity of ecologically fragile areas; and second, institute a system of evaluating the economic value of services that ecosystems provide us. This is already in the works but needs to be done much more proactively.


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