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Ashes to ashes...
...Everest to dust! Dumping woes
The exponential increase in pollution and garbage dumps on the higher reaches of Himalayas is an outcome of the increased tourist traffic. In Mount Everest, for example, even before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first successfully scaled the world’s highest peak in 1953, there were heaps of flesh, plastic, parachutes, food packets, empty cylinders splattered in this death-zone. Studies show that about 615 tonnes of waste, including poisonous elements, have been spotted across and around Mount Everest. Against this, the bi-annual clean-up program by the Nepal government could manage to get rid of merely 1,700 kg in 1996 and 2,450 kg in 2001.
The most polluted garbage dump of the Himalayas, however, remains the battle-torn Siachen Glacier. The 76 sq km glacier is cluttered with tonnes of trash-like tin cans, weapons, clothing and cables. Since 1984, not only wars but fierce cold has pushed soldiers to death. Ironically, more than deaths, it’s sustenance of lives that has brought severe pollution to the icy terrain. These dumps not only degrade the glaciers but also the water bodies that flow from them. Innovative initiatives then are more than required to ensure that future conquerors of Mt. Everest don’t have to watch their step after climbing on top of this behemoth.
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