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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

ADB funds Rs. 1900 crore tourism project for Himachal

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ADB Funds Tourism Project for Himachal Pradesh

The design of the project is based on the detailed baseline data, a study conducted of 324 sites in 12 districts of the state, suggestions obtained from about 90,000 tourists.

Shimla: The Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India has approved a tourism infrastructure development project worth about Rs. 1900 crores to be funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for development of tourism infrastructure in the urban and rural areas of Himachal Pradesh.

With the help of this ADB funded project, the state would develop tourism in rural, unexplored areas and improve the infrastructure of the towns and also generate employment for the local youths and showcase Himachal as the best natural tourist destination state, the State Government informed.

Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism Ram Subhag Singh further informed the project would be completed in eight years.

The project is supposed to focus on diversification of tourism to new and rural areas by developing tourism infrastructure, create livelihood and employment opportunities through rural, adventure and ecotourism.

The project also mentions the application of innovative models like incentive-based mechanisms for community-based tourism activities, augmentation of services like water supply, sewerage, solid waste, skill development related to the tourism sector, advertising and marketing etc.

He claimed it would be one of the finest examples of sustainable tourism in the Himalayan States.

The project will have both hard and soft components and will include beautification of towns, development of unexplored areas, conservation and restoration of heritage buildings, infrastructure development in adventure, eco, rural tourism with an emphasis on community participation and employment generation.

The design of the project is based on the detailed baseline data, a study conducted of 324 sites in 12 districts of the state and suggestions obtained from about 90,000 tourists and designed in line with sustainable tourism guideline for the Himalayan States.

The Union Ministry of Tourism, Union Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs and Niti Ayog have also supported the project for tourism development in Himachal, it was informed. ADB Funds Tourism Project for Himachal Pradesh

The Government said the Department of Economic Affairs was satisfied with the performance and progress of the State on the ongoing ADB funded project of about Rs.600 crores.

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ECO-Tourism

Future of India is in tourism, says Alphons at conference on Himachal’s eco-tourism potential

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Potential of Eco-Tourism in Himachal Pradesh 2

Shimla: The Union Minister of State for Tourism Minister K. J. Alphons on Tuesday said the future of India is in tourism as the global tourism witnessed a growth of 7 per cent, while tourism in India grew by 15.6 per cent.

He was speaking during the inauguration ceremony of the two days International Conference on ‘Eco-Tourism Potential in Himachal Pradesh’ organized by the State Forest Department and Eco-Tourism Society of Himachal Pradesh at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali in Kullu district.

It is true that the potential of tourism in Himachal is promising. Sadly, the previous government of the both ruling and opposition parties did not do much to encourage eco-tourism or environmental conservation. The efforts were limited to announcements and proposals.

Some of the appreciable steps in this regard, which are very rare, were a ban on plastic bags and thermocol cups and plates.

All major international tourism destinations of the State have witnessed an unplanned growth of concrete and rise in the daily generation of solid waste. However, except for Shimla town, none of the other districts has a solid waste treatment plant. The Municipal Councils of these towns are still using landfills.

It was only recently in 2018 that the State Government made an announcement for the establishment of waste management plants in various districts. However, the government did not provide any deadline for the completion.

New Announcements of HP Govt

On Tuesday, the Himachal Pradesh Government has announced the development of 113 sites boost the eco-tourism. Out the total, five sites would be developed in a Public Private Partnership mode. Other 16 sites would be developed by the State Forest Department and 47 by the HP the State Forest Corporation. These agencies would are supposed to start eco-tourism activities at these sites.

It was announced that 25 new destinations would be developed by constructing log huts for tourists.

Three eco-tourism hubs would be developed during the current financial year and 10 places would be developed as adventure tourism spot of Himachal in collaboration with Eco-Tourism Society, Tourism Department and Mountaineering Institute, Manali.

Further, the government claimed that 31 eco-tourism circuits has been prepared and would be sent for approval to the Centre.

Nature parks and herbal gardens are being developed in the State and as many as 50 Forest Rest Houses have started eco-tourism activities in the State. It said efforts would be made to link eco-tourism with the rural life, culture and traditions.

The government expects it would not only give a boost to the unexplored and virgin tourist destinations of the State but also help in boosting economic activities in the rural areas of the State.

The government said it would spend Rs 50 crore on a new scheme ‘Nayae Rahaien Nayae Manzilain’, under which new tourist destinations would be developed in the State.

The government has banned the use of thermocol cup plates in the State from June 5 on the occasion of World Environment Day. These steps would go a long way in ensuring a clean environment of the State.

The eco-tourism could have several components such as trekking, mountain biking, river rafting, skiing, heli-skiing, camping, rock climbing, bird watching etc.

The government said the exploration of new destinations would not only provide much-needed solace to the tourists visiting these pristine new places in the State but also lessen the burden on already crowded tourist destinations of the State.
The Government would also associate private players to invest in eco-tourism projects.

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur filled a membership form of Eco Club on the occasion. Several MoUs for eco-tourism projects were signed on the occasion between different organizations and companies.

The left bank Manali road would be taken up through World Bank of CRF funding for its timely completion.

The announcements do sound appreciable, but in reality, the government is still struggling even to provide basic facilities to the public. The tourism industry in Shimla had taken a hit due to the water-scarcity caused by mismanagement and preparedness of the government.

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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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