The widespread use of plastic packaging and the lack of garbage disposal systems is blighting remote mountain villages in Himachal Pradesh, turning the picturesque and once pristine areas, into giant rubbish dumps. View more at #YesPahari.
Villagers (like we found in Malana) are trying to get rid of the plastic by burning it, causing more environmental damage and a further risk to health. Nearly three thousand metres above sea level lies the village of Malana. Situated in the state of Himachal Pradesh, it was once a tiny, isolated spot tucked between steep mountains of the Kullu Valley.
The locals live in hand-built wooden houses, and relied on food that was able to grow in the harsh mountain conditions. Hauling rice and wheat from the nearest depot took as many as four days. Now, just an hour-long trek from the nearest road, the small community has been introduced to the world of plastic packaged products, and there is garbage everywhere.
Despite a ban on plastics here, the drains in the village are overflowing with empty soda bottles and crisp packets, which eventually litter the mountainside and enters nearby streams and sources of fresh water. Now each evening, the pure mountain air is filled with an acrid smell of burning plastic, as shop owners and other households collect and burn trash around their houses.
Locals Pioneer Clean up
Indra Devi is president of a local women’s group, which is pioneering a clean up. Devi remembers a time when Malana wasn’t swamped with plastic. Devi has led clean up rallies through the village, but says it is not easy to clean up Malana.
Earlier, there was no plastic, no paper here,” she says. “Ever since plastic came to this area, everything from vegetables to grocery, is packed in plastic. Even yogurt is sold in plastic. – Indra Devi, President of a local women’s group in Malana village
‘Waste Warriors’ Step In
Since 2012, waste management activists called Waste Warriors have been going door-to-door to collect people’s trash. With operations spread over three towns in the foothills of the Himalayas, the group has collected and sorted more than 630 tonnes of garbage in the last year alone.
Minakshi Pandey, a programme manager for Waste Warriors, says most people in rural India don’t know the impact of inhaling plastic fumes or other harmful effects of plastic trash.
Shimla – Polythene makes a comeback
First state in India to ban plastics has not banished the offensive material responsible for littering scenic landscapes in the state for lack of a proper garbage disposal in the forested area of Sangati, a city suburb, has been turned into waste dump yard that is littered with polythene, plastic waste and other non-biodegradable material.
Not just a scar on the clean environment but the gathering garbage is also threatening to kill the lush cedar trees in the forest. Besides the mounting heaps of daily garbage dumped also poses a health hazard to the people living in the area.
View more at #YesPahari.