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Friday, September 30, 2022

In Frames | Garbage mountains – Mrit News

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The Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand, an annual pilgrimage to four Hindu temples, has turned the route to Kedarnath into mounting heaps of garbage and plastic waste. Thousands of devotees are ferried on vehicles till Gaurikund from where the 18-km trek to the Kedarnath temple begins. Many pilgrims are transported on horses and mules and some in palkies and helicopters, while a sizeable number take the journey on foot. The heavy influx of people to the place has resulted in rising air pollution and environmental hazards. The State government has been struggling to address the issue of mounting garbage dumped into the Mandakini river, which emerges from the Chorabari glacier in Kedarnath.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his monthly radio address of Mann Ki Baat, expressed concern over the filth being dumped in the pilgrimage spot. The piles of garbage, particularly plastic waste dumped by pilgrims, have alarmed environmentalists who say that this could hurt the fragile ecosystem, lead to soil erosion and cause landslips. In the recent past, images of garbage heaps along the Kedarnath route had gone viral on social media, with many demanding a strict fine for offenders and urging the government to keep a cap on the number of tourists every season.

Kedarnath reopened after six months on May 6. While in the past, the annual pilgrimage to Kedarnath used to peak by the third week of May, the Char Dham was packed from day one this year. As many as 42 deaths were reported on the Kedarnath route, the highest in the Char Dham route, during the first two weeks of its opening.

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