Manali: Popular mountain valley destination Manali has played host to thousands of summer tourists escaping the heat waves of the plains. As the arrivals increase, heaps of garbage and stink greet the tourists entering Manali and its nearby places.
In May and June alone about 1 million (10 Lakh) tourists did visit Manali. Besides traffic congestion, lack of parking spaces and crowding, they have left behind tons of garbage and waste that the civic authorities are struggling to contain.
The heaps of garbage in the town and its nearby places presents an ugly picture of the place. Not only has it become a health hazard, it leaves a bad impression on the visiting tourists, says Vikram, an old time resident of Manali.
The tourist township is heavily dependent on travel and tourism for its economy. Several hotel owners have urged the authorities to ensure proper disposal of the waste being generated.
President Hotels Association of Manali Mukesh Thakur says, “Garbage is piling up in and beyond Manali, especially in places like Vashishth, Old Manali and other nearby places.”
Currently the waste from Rohtang Pass, left Beas River Bank of Manali and from Solang to Manali is collected and disposed off at the garbage treatment facility outside the town at Rangari. But that too is proving insufficient for handling the large quantities piling up on the streets and road sides.
Hotel owners hold that the Tourism Development Council (TDC) – Kullu-Manali, Municipal Council Manali, and the Manali administration are responsible for ensuring the lifting of garbage in Manali and its nearby places.
Mukesh adds, “Timely action by the department can resolve the problem. We suggest forming a committee, which can include officials from the local administration, the tourism department, the Municipal Council and the hoteliers association to take action for tackling this problem.”
As the pile of garbage in Manali town and surrounding areas increases, the civic authorities are now looking to dump in it landfill sites and at an upcoming power plant which is under construction near Manali.
Vice-president of Manali Municipal Council Manoj Iarjae let Hill Post know “In peak season Manali generates about 35 tonnes of waste every day and in other days it has about 10 tonnes of garbage to collect and dispose of. Once the power plant starts working, all our waste-related problems would be solved.
He added plans were afoot to manage garbage more efficiently with segregation of waste at the source being one of the practices to be adopted soon.
Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice.
He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express.
With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology.
Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.