‘It Can Trigger Environmental Catastrophe In Ski-Resort’


Gulmarg, June 21: Unscientific disposal of tons of garbage in this world famous ski resort is taking a heavy toll on its fragile ecosystem.
While the State government projects Gulmarg—housing Asia’s largest and longest ropeway—as major tourist attraction in Kashmir, it has failed to put in place basic sanitation facilities there.
On an average 131.16 metric tons of garbage is annually generated in Gulmarg. However, in absence of any scientific disposal mechanism, the garbage is dumped in forests along the resort’s ‘outer circular road’.
Tons of garbage including non-biodegradable polythene, plastic bottles and left-over food items lie scattered along this stretch of forests. Pungent smell emanating from these garbage dumps has engulfed the resort’s outer circular road, causing immense inconvenience to visitors.
Proper sanitation is a concern even in the core areas of Gulmarg including Gondola, Ice-Skating Ring and Children’s Park. Though the authorities have placed dumper bins in these areas, garbage overflows from them in absence of regular cleaning. Near the Ice-Skating Ring, authorities have placed an outdated trolley as a dumper bin. Throughout the day non-local scavengers rummage through the garbage to sift plastic bottles and empty juice cans.
“During night this garbage-laden trolley is attached to a tractor and emptied in forests on the Outer Circular road. Gulmarg has been vandalized. It has been turned into a garbage dumping spot,” locals said.
The problem is compounded by presence of horse-dung on interior roads in Gulmarg. “Sweepers never clean horse dung from the roads. With increase in temperature, the horse dung has started to decay and emanate unbearable smell,” another local said.
Tourists are aghast over lack of sanitation facilities in the resort. “We are disappointed to see the pathetic condition of Gulmarg. Garbage and horse dung has been littered everywhere,” said Parmeet Kaur, a tourist from Punjab.
Many hoteliers said despite payment of sanitation fee, the authorities have failed to maintain cleanliness.
“It is the responsibility of authorities to ensure proper scientific disposal of garbage,” they said.
The sanitation of Gulmarg was outsourced in 2011. The Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) board, headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, had in 2011 approved installation of an incinerator to scientifically dispose of garbage generated in Gulmarg.
Omar had also emphasized on cleanliness of Gulmarg and management of tourist traffic in the area in a better manner.
“We have to transfer the natural resources God has bestowed upon us to the next generation in a better and preserved form to make the tourism sustain and continue percolating economic benefits to the people in an unabated manner”, Omar had said while chairing the GDA’s 7th board meeting last year.
Subsequently, the job to install the incinerator was assigned to the Mechanical Engineering department (MED) which prepared a detailed project report. The estimated cost of project was Rs 361 lakhs.
“The MED procured the incinerator plant and placed it in Tangmarg, however civil work on the project is yet to be started due to unknown reasons,” an official wishing anonymity said.
Over 18 lakh tourists visited Gulmarg last year. Officials said this year over 20 lakh tourists are expected to visit the resort.
“The unscientific dumping of garbage will be detrimental to fragile eco-system of Gulmarg. It is high time that authorities should put in place scientific measures for proper garbage disposal to save Gulmarg from ecological disaster,” said environmentalist, Muhammad Yousuf.
Chief Executive Officer Gulmarg Development Authority Tariq Ganai said measures are ‘underway’ to scientifically dispose of garbage.
“Sanitation of Gulmarg has been outsourced. In absence of any alternative at present the concerned contractor has no option but to dump it in forests. We utilize all our manpower and resources to ensure sanitation of Gulmarg,” the CEO told Greater Kashmir.
He said a place has been identified at Tangmarg for installation of incinerator. “But some locals are not allowing us to go ahead with the project. Hopefully, the matter would be resolved soon. Installation of incinerator is a permanent solution to scientific garbage disposal in the resort. We have also identified a garbage dumping spot at Nagtop in Gulmarg and would soon develop it,” the CEO added.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Jun 2013 00:00:00 IST

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