When you hear ‘Gulmarg’, the images of snow-clad mountains, scintillating view of skiers and snow-boarders come to your mind. But Greater Kashmir photojournalist Mubashir Khan has captured a different and surprising perspective of the famous hill station. These frames present a bleak picture of the environment and the waste management by the authorities.
The hill-station has three main entry points. While the first two are clean, the third stands completely opposite. With garbage of every kind, some littered and some packed in blue polythene covering over one-kanal, locals say the forest is in a dire need of rejuvenation.
From the last couple of years, locals say the garbage is expanding beyond its present perimeter, courtesy monkeys, crows and other animals. “They come here looking for food and carry litter with them only to spread it at other places later,” explained horsemen of the area.
The shed installed for the purpose of assembling garbage is already full to its capacity and instead of treating the accumulated waste, men in-charge have spread it across the forest.
However, the big question, locals ask is: If polythene is banned inside the premises of Gulmarg, how is then the huge amount of non-biodegradable waste generated from the shops and hotels situated in the hill station?
Locals and horsemen say authorities used to burn the polythene and other litter inside a dedicated machine which resulted in poisonous pollution of the air, however, the process hasn’t been halted to stop the pollution but because the machine turned dysfunctional, locals say.
In summers, the massive littering causes foul smell which spreads to a huge diameter, making tourists question the source of the smell, said a local guide requesting anonymity for fear of repercussions from local authorities.
“We don’t bring them (tourists) from this side to explore, for they will see nothing except the garbage which will ruin the image of place, people and all the stake holders involved in promoting and executing the tourism related works here,” said a local guide.
Not only this, but the presence of wasted food items in the garbage invites wild animals like brown bear, posing threat to human habitation here even as it poses danger to the lives of tourists wandering in the meadows.