Tourism pollution – A crisis

Tourism- A tainting treasure

With rich natural vegetation, flora and fauna, long stretching water bodies and snowcapped mountains, an enthralling history and an unparalleled cultural diversity, India is a tourist attraction for many national as well as international tourism enthusiasts. Unfortunately with the growing number of people flocking these places of natural beauty, it is adversely affecting our environment. Littering of tourist places, the upcoming hotels and resorts at the cost of trees, the growing transport and air pollution have collectively led to the degradation of environment at many tourist attractions. As an Indian and more so, as a responsible human being, it is our moral duty to protect our environment from any such harm.

The tarnishing Taj

Our most treasured monument, Taj Mahal which we proudly refer to as the seventh Wonder of the World has been one of the biggest victim to this rising pollution. The fine white-marble monument built as a symbol of love is turning unpleasantly yellow due to the air borne particles from the surrounding oil refineries and the increasing traffic. Attracting around 300,000 visitors every year, this gigantic monument was completed in 1648 after 17 years of construction by 20,000 workers whose hands were cut off to prevent its duplication in future. Today, it is disheartening to see that many of the second time visitors have already started noticing the marks on this aging beauty built with such relentless dedication. To cut back on pollution, government has taken measures under which, cars and buses are prohibited from driving too close to the Taj Mahal. Visitors are supposed to park their vehicles about one and a half miles away and then take horse-drawn carriages to reach the monument. A non-corrosive and non-abrasive clay pack treatment is being carried out to remove deposits of particles on the marble which is estimated to cost around $230,000.From tranquility to turmoil

A decade back, people used to travel to Shimla to spend a peaceful vacation in the beautiful valleys and snow clad peaks, away from the scorching heat of summer. But all that is left now are crowded places, congested traffic on roads, heaps of litter and diminishing vegetation. Same is the case with Mussourie, Manali, Rishikesh and many other tourist places. The surge in number of pilgrims has brought in considerable pollution. Ganga and Yamuna, two of our precious rivers are reeling under high levels of pollution. The rising level of pollution has raised many eyes and now people have started adopting eco-tourism to prevent the degradation of our most valuable resource – the nature.

Sustainable tourism – Need for the day

Conservation of natural resources is one concern, but the immediate concern is to tackle the harm caused by the increasing number of tourists. The littering of the once clean Juhu beach of Mumbai is not new but somehow we have not been able to find a solution for it yet. Environmentalists have insisted on solutions like burning or burying of paper and taking away non degradable polybags to ensure proper disposable of wastes. But such solutions are always easy to suggest and difficult to implement.

Mawlynnong is a remote village hidden in the greens in Meghalaya. This small place located at around 90km from Shillong is known as “The cleanest Village in Asia”. The residents of this picturesque village have learnt to live at harmony with Mother Nature and are a very good example which the urban folks should emulate. With the sustainable bamboo dustbins, separate compost pits for organic and inorganic wastes, ban on use of polythene and smoking, public toilets maintained by the villagers themselves, ritual of sweeping and cleaning of the gardens and roads every evening, this place is spick and span in every respect. Even the children there are taught from an early age to keep their surroundings clean and they don’t hesitate to pick up the odd piece of garbage on the road and put it in the bin.

This realization and seriousness is the need of the day. If this can be achieved then we sure will be able to preserve our country’s rich tourism from degradation.

Swati Nidiganti