Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir (ATOAK) Thursday expressed its dismay over unregulated trekking activities in Sindh and Lidder valleys.
In a statement, ATOAK said, some “unprofessional and non-registered” trekking companies are operating in Sindh and Lidder valleys, which not only endangers the life of the trekkers but is also creating havoc to the environment in these valleys.
“Presently we have some serious threats to the development of adventure tourism in Kashmir Valley. As per newly framed guidelines by department of tourism only registered Adventure Tour Operators of the state have been authorised to run adventure related activities including their trekking programs in the state. the new guidelines discouraged the unregistered companies and Individuals to run any commercial trekking programs until they full-fill the norms in vogue,” read the statement.
ATOAK is dismayed to learn that some companies are organizing the Great Lakes trek in huge numbers with large number of trekkers in their each trek but are neither registered nor authorised to do so, it said.
“Unfortunately they create fixed tented colonies at all the campsites on the route, this unethical and unprofessional practice not only squeeze the space for other fellow trekkers but creates environmental problems for the area as well. All the garbage which includes hazardous polythene, plastic, glass and tin is dumped near the camping sites thus creating environmental problems in the trekking areas,” it said.
“We also fear that under these circumstances the National Green Tribunal (NGT) may stop trekking in this environmentally most fragile area, which would be a great and direct loss to the local adventure tour operators and local economy as well,” it added.
ATOAK requested the Tourism Department to allow the trekking companies on the conditions that they should engage the local adventure tour operators as their handling agents for their trekking programs in the state.