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Shimla’s forests, popular tourist spots hit by ‘Litterbugs’

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food stalls shimla toursit spots

Hasan Valley-Shimla

Do you know what a litterbug is? The dictionary will define it as “a person who carelessly drops litter in a public place”. Are you one? The word is made for Indian folks. These litterbugs have hit Shimla’s natural beauty as well, and now, it stands shrouded by garbage, while the Govt. makes no efforts, no awareness campaigns,  proper disposal arrangements, no strict actions against violators.

SHIMLA- People of Himachal do feel proud on the magnificent gift that nature has endowed the place with; however, they have no idea regarding the respect it demands to sustain the original state. Shimla City is already struggling with garbage trouble, but the suburbs and places like the Chadwick Falls, Hassan Valley, famous for dense Deodar tree cover that hides Himalayan wildlife under it, are in the grip of human littering. Take a look at these photos and a video. It’s garbage all around this particular roadside spot at Hassan Valley. You can commonly see people peeing in public, openly burning the garbage, throwing bottles and beverage wrappings, smoking etc.

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food stalls shimla toursit spots

The Kulcha Walas and small snack stalls on the roadside, all of them feel free to push the garbage down the hill, into the forest. Many native Himachal people would argue that these guys are migrants from other backward states like UP and Bihar, and that we should not blame innocent ‘Himachalis’ for their litter. Well, we would like to make it clear that the public in Shimla is no less than these tourists or migrants. Not only the public, but each and everyone in the chain that began from citizens, goes through garbage collectors, and Municipal Corporation and ends as ugly scenes in Shimla, is equally responsible for this mess.

shimla forest garbage

The Govt. doesn’t seem to be interested in reforming the present state of affairs. There has been time when, in order to handle the similar scenario, the developed countries like USA had to spend on public awareness campaigns through electronic media, newspapers, radios etc., on better education at schools, and better management of violators. It took a lot of efforts to tame the citizens. Here, in India, the election budget of Indian political parties surpassed that of U.S.A. in 2014 elections, but the nation remains poor when it comes to the real jobs.

Related Story: So, is this how Shimla Ward Councilors fix the garbage?

tourism in shimla and garbage issue

The tourists, especially the domestic once, behave like migrated monkeys. They come in luxury cars, wearing those expensive Ray-Ban goggles, dressed in what is latest in brands; they appreciate the beauty and then honor it by littering the roadside and the forests. The locals don’t mind it. The public don’t feel that disgust for the litterbugs which indeed they really deserved. Our silence is doing more damage than  than the incompetence of HP Tourism Deptt., Forest Deptt., and Shimla MC.

.shimla tourist waste

That’s quite enough of polite hospitality. The HP Tourism Department needs to show some real tough attitude to such guests. Come on. The tourists already have enough to spend on a holiday. They are the ones who can afford to bear the penalties. All that the Govt. need to do is to target their pockets for littering Shimla. Execute draconian laws if required to tame uncivilized savages. For example, if someone caught throwing waste paper or plastic anywhere in Singapore, he/she will attract a fine of $200, no arguments. In Shimla, we have a fine of Rs. 200 or 500 painted at some spots, but it’s very rare that there is any supervision or execution of rules on the behalf of Govt. What’s the matter? Why the Govt. is so lenient and tolerant to such litterbugs?

indian litterbug

Next comes the party people, who love the serenity of isolated spots in the forests, but leave the whisky and the cold drink bottles behind to mark their presence. Take a look at the above posted image. It’s the roadside. The forests are also full of bottles. These drunkards or party lovers are not only causing environmental pollution, but also the visual pollution, making almost every tourist spot in Shimla an ugly scene.

shimla waste disposal

If you wonder why such a filth around never surprised you, then you must read about ‘Broken Window Theory’. It’s basically a criminological theory, but it’s really useful if we could associate it with the behavioral pattern behind any particular habit. The theory came up after it was published in an article in 1982 by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. Here are the most relevant lines:

“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.”

“Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.”

The unchecked littering habits, unhygienic practices, and the uncivilized behavior  get a boost of encouragement to litterbugs everytime they are tolerated by the authorities and the public itself. Also, here, the parents didn’t actually fail in guiding the children towards appropriate waste disposal habits because they never tried or they themselves never followed any these positive habits.

shimla burning garbage

Click To View Photos/Read related Complaint by A HW Reader

Rather, people of all ages feel free to dispose beverage wrappings, cold drink or mineral water bottles anywhere they please. Onlookers don’t mind it; rather, it gives them one of the most used excuse for justifying their own faults. No one follows rules, rules are meant to break, and laws are only for the weak or how much damage it would cause to the environment if I drop a cigarette butt on ground, these are the arguments which we Indian litterbugs find convincing and consoling for our morally corroding souls.

Related Story: HPU campus, nearby forests filled with garbage, Who is responsible?

There isn’t any clue of concise regarding the cleanliness and hygiene among Indians. There was this article on The Hindu titled “Are Indians by nature unhygienic?” It said:

“If there is a ranking of countries in respect of observance of standards of sanitation and hygiene, one can be sure that India would figure close to the bottom. A majority of visitors to India from those countries complain of “Delhi belly” within a few hours of arrival, and some fall seriously ill. The general lack of cleanliness and hygiene hits the eye wherever one goes in India — hotels, hospitals, households, work places, railway trains, airplanes and, yes, temples. Indians think nothing of spitting whenever they like and wherever they choose, and living in surroundings which they themselves make unliveable by their dirty habits.”

To conclude with, if you think poverty, illiteracy, and lack awareness or resources have made the society more vulnerable to negative garbage disposal behavior, then take a look what another article, which is a contrast to the excuses Indian Govt. keep releasing in press releases

“Singapore became an independent country in 1965, about 20 years after India. In a few decades, it went from a being a Third World country to a developed first-world country. The architect of this transformation was Lee Kuan Yew, who served as its PM from its birth in 1965 to 1990. This is all the more remarkable because Singapore has no natural resources to speak of, and has to depend on neighboring Malaysia even for drinking water (while in India, even neighboring States cannot reach an amicable settlement on sharing river waters). Today, the country has the third highest per capita income in the world (higher than the U.S., Japan, and countries of Western Europe), and boasts of having the world’s number one airline.”

It’s more about the will to change the ugly scenario going on in Shimla including most the popular tourist spots, temples, forests etc. Please, wake up. Stop being a litterbug and bother to speak or report if you see anyone littering around. If nothing more, then just click a photo of these litterbugs, if you ever come across one, and directly post them in HW UrNews Section, without mentioning any personal details regarding you identity.

A Gallery Showing Shimla’s Forests Filled with Garbage

Hasan Valley Image:exquisitedestination.blogspot.com

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

ECO-Tourism

Himachal seeks Rs. 300 crore from Centre to promote religious tourism circuit and eco-adventure tourism

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Religious Tourism in Himachal PRadesh

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Government has urged the Union Minister for Tourism, K.J. Alphons to sanction three schemes worth Rs. 300 crore to promote religious tourism circuit and eco-adventure tourism in the state.

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, during a meeting in New Delhi, apprised the Minister that Himachal was also a major centre of religious tourism and religious tourism circuits will be developed here to provide devotees more facilities.

The Chief Minister also invited Union Minister to Himachal and said that he himself will take him to the tourist destinations of the State. K.J. Alphons whole-heartedly accepted the invitation.

Chief Minister also urged the Centre to provide funds generously for widespread publicity of tourism sites in the state.

The Union Minister of State for Tourism assured the Chief Minister that the Union Government will extend all possible support to this hill state for exploitation and expansion of its tourism potential.

The Chief Minister said that the focus should be on tourism in the state, which was not given before. However, now the state government is giving special emphasis to strengthening infrastructure in virgin natural places, he said.

Himachal has immense potential for adventure tourism and adventure sports like mountaineering, biking, river rafting, and paragliding and the state is considered as a paradise for these adventure sports.

However, it is true that the governments have done very little to polish and maintain the tourism sector.

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ECO-Tourism

Amidst wild animals, without electricity, phone or clock, an old woman lives alone in Great Himalayan National Park

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Great-Himalayan-National-Park

SHIMLA- Have you ever thought of living your entire life in wild, without electricity and electronics, and even a clock? How about the Great National Himalayan Park that is recognized by UNESCO for its incredibly rich bio-diversity? The 754 square kilometer National Park houses 31 mammal species including leopards, the Himalayan black and brown bear, and the ghost cat – snow leopards. There are over 300 bird species, reptiles, hundreds of insect species amid rich Himalayan flora and fauna.  It sounds more like a Hollywood adventure movie. Is it possible to live in such a harmony with nature?  

Indian woman Living in forest alone

Photo: GHNP

There is no habitation for miles as all natives were removed to a separate buffer –zone when the area was declared as a National Park. However, there was a woman, who refused to depart from the nature. She has been sharing the forest with wild animals for decades now. 

Woman lives in himalayan national park

Photo: IANS

So it’s not entirely true that there is no habitation inside the park. An 83-years-old lady, Chatri Devi, still lives in her clay-house, all alone.

Woman lives along in forestPhoto: Xerxespa
She doesn’t have electricity or a phone. She doesn’t even possess a clock and calculate time by following sun. This seclusion, complete isolation and wild animals do not scare her at all.

Leopards and black bears do come near to my house, even with their cubs, but they never attacked me as I am not their prey. Why should I be afraid of them? They go on their way (pointing towards a thick forest adjoining her house),

Chatri Devi says.

chatri devi GHNP

Clay House of Chatri Devi in GHNP/ Photo: Gaurav Chaudhary

It’s not that she doesn’t have a family or is bound to live here. Rather, she has a big family comprising of three married sons, their wives, and nine grandchildren, who live in a village outside the park. It takes about one and half hour walk uphill to reach her from their place.

Great Himalayan National Park

Photo: GHNP

The only reason for her to choose this life in the park is that she loves it as she has a strong emotional attachment to the house she had build with her husband decades ago and small-piece of farmland where the couple grew wheat, barely, potato, corn and rajmah. She is the only one person who refused to relocate when the the area was declared as the GHNP in 1999. 

chatri devi in great himalayan national park

Xerxespa.Blogspot

Her death is the only way to separate her from the house, she said.

When asked if she ever gets bored, she replies,

These birds and animals are also part of my family. Every winter ‘jujuranas’ or western tragopans and gorals descend here. So I ejoy watching them.

These days, as she is very old now, one of the family members come to visit her everyday after taking that hours long uphill walk to ensure she is doing fine and returns by evening. 

She makes a remarkable example of complete harmony with nature and its creature, away from modernised and way far complex, stressful urban life. 

About The Himalayan National Park

Top Image: IANS

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ECO-Tourism

India’s first Igloo hotel in Manali is the fresh tourist attraction in Himachal

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Manali Igloo Stay 4

SHIMLA- Manali Igloo Stay is the fresh tourist attraction not only in Himachal Pradesh, but in entire India. First-of-its- kind, made entirely of snow, the Igloo houses are owned by Kelinga Himalyan Adventures, a winter-sports and travel company that offers ski courses and treks. The company, that comprises of local youth Tashi and Vikas, had been looking for good snowfall to give the concept a try.  It’s eco-friendly, as it used no non-biodegradable material (snow), there would be no waste after it’ll meltdown.

Himachal Igloo hotel

This year, it snowed heavy and temperature was also favorable to build Igloo houses at Sethan village, near Prini. Each structure is made of compressed snow and measures 8×9 foot in width and 6.5 feet in height. The Igloos were opened at the end of the January, 2017. 

The igloos are built by Tashi and Vikas with their friends.

When we discussed this concept with our friends, they were so excited that they spent hours with us and even helped us build them,

the duo told to an English daily.

Igloo hotel himachal

The visitors are provided with bedding, table and lights. Accommodation is available only on a twin-sharing basis as there are only two structures. For sleeping, the visitors are given warm feather sleeping bags and a hot water bottle.
Manali Igloo Stay 2

The temperature is chilling outside, but apparently inside is comparatively warmer. The Igloos can sure save visitors from cold winds outside. So, the idea is quite practical.

Igloo Manali

The company hopes that the Igloos will stand for another month before it begins to meltdown with change in season. The rates vary from 4,500 to 7,000 depending upon different packages.
Manali Igloo Stay 3

Igloos are mainly found in colder parts of the world like Switzerland, Canada, Finland etc. Definitely, it would be entirely a unique experience to find out what it feels to live in an Igaloo. No need to say, these Igloos would be available only in winters, hardly for a couple of months.

That’s not all; visitor can try to build their own Igloo houses at a height of about 9,000 feet, somewhere near Hampta pass.

This year, we have introduced two igloos on a trial basis and it has been successful. Lower areas of Manali, including the town, are warmer than Sethan. We plan to to get this concept registered with the tourism department so that they (officials) can also help us promote it, especially in rural areas,

they said.

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