Editorial | Keep the Mountains Clean

Intermittent rains drench J&K plains

Adventure Tourism has been this year in the news because of many tourists coming to Kashmir to participate in various activities like skiing, mountaineering, trekking, rafting and so on, regardless of the situation. This type of tourism is supposedly environment friendly and gives people an opportunity to be one with nature in high mountain areas. In fact, Himalaya is called to be the abode of gods. The well known Chinese philosopher Confucius has a famous saying about mountains. “Wisemen find pleasure in water, virtuous in mountains!” Kashmir has numerous trekking trails some of which are supposed to be the most spectacular and enchanting. While we promote trekking and climbing in our mountains and invite all adventure lovers we have to at the same time take care of our mountain ecology which is very fragile. The first lesson given to mountaineers and trekkers everywhere is “Keep the Mountains Clean”!

They have to remember that they are not the last ones to go through these trails. There will be others who will follow them. So they are morally duty bound to keep the trails clean. In many areas especially in American National Parks, it is legally an offense to leave any garbage on any trail. People are heavily fined for that! Moreover, the Adventure is enjoyable when a group of mountaineers and trekkers have for quite some distance the trekking trails to themselves. Same holds good for mountain peaks. Unfortunately, this unique attraction of trekking and climbing is getting drastically changed. Now one sees crowds of climbers and trekkers going into mountains. Sometime back ten climbers were killed on Mountain Everest because of overcrowding on the summit ridge. Kashmir had always been a big attraction because of the vastness of trekking trails and abundance of mountain peaks. Unfortunately, as reported, recently continuous group trekking has been started in some areas in Kashmir with the aim of tourism promotion. The world famous Gangabal trek is reportedly getting polluted with garbage because of this crowd of trekkers. Reportedly permanent camps have been established on different high-altitude lakes. This continuous trail of trekkers with pre-established camps takes out all the charm and thrill from the adventurous sport of trekking and mountaineering. Secondly, it pollutes the mountains with unperishable garbage. Kashmir’s delicate ecology demands promotion of sustainable tourism and not mass tourism. Whatever people may say, Tourism has never been the back bone of Kashmir’s economy. The back bone has always been and presently also continues to be the agriculture. Tourism has been and will continue to be a back up! We welcome tourists from all over the world but not at the cost of our environment. Tourism department needs to reorient their plans towards sustainable tourism to ensure not only mountains remain clean but our entire environment remains well protected.