‘Clean Himalayas’ campaign launched in Uttarakhand

January 02, 2018

Dehradun: A unique initiative to clean the Himalayas as part of the Central Government’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign has been launched in the mountain state of Uttarakhand.

Dubbed ‘Cleanathon Himalaya’, this innovative programme aims to clean three source tributaries of river Ganga – the Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and Pindar.

This campaign has been undertaken by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Dehradun - a first by any public sector organization.

Launching the current edition of the programme here recently, ONGC Director (HR), D D Mishra said: “We have launched the 4th phase under which we aim to clean the source and catchment areas of three important tributaries of Ganga in Uttarakhand.”

He said that the programme is part of the ‘Swacch Pakhwada’ drive of the Government of India beginning from July 16 to 31 and that ONGC remains committed to playing an active role in the Swacch Bharat mission.

ONGC is planning to make this effort a perpetual ‘Total Clean Himalayas’ campaign with a view to ensuring the cleanliness and revitalization of the most unique symbol of the eco-system – the Himalayas.

As part of this unique initiative, ONGC is partnering with the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), a Delhi-based institute, to remove hazardous garbage/waste generated by tourists at different tourist spots of the Himalayas.

In the three phases completed so far, ONGC has covered important peaks and glaciers of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.

The total cost of this project will be Rs 35.4 lakh with each expedition consisting of an eight to ten-member team. The duration of each cleaning expedition, which began in July this year and will conclude by December 2017, will be between 21 to 25 days.

The cleaning expeditions will be carried out respectively: For Bhagirathi river the team will travel a distance of 22 km along Gangotri-Chirbasa-Bhojbasa-Gaumukh-Tapovan Base Camp; In Alaknanda river, the clean-up will cover a distance of 25 km from Mana-Laxmi Van-Chakrateertha-Neelkanth Base Camp; and for the Pindar an area of 21 km will be covered from Kharkiya-Khati-Dwali-Pindar Base Camp.

A trained team of mountaineers with expedition guides and porters will be directly engaged in cleaning the selected locations by physically binning the solid waste. The collected garbage will be segregated into bio-degradable and non-bio-degradable and will be brought down to the nearest location where disposal facilities exist.

Collected garbage would be disposed off through local recyclers or waste disposal mechanism of the local municipalities. Regular cleaning arrangements of dustbins will be tied up with the local authorities. The expedition team will also create awareness about personal hygiene, sanitation and the benefits of cleanliness among the inhabitants of the villages along the designated routes.

While the Project team leader will be selected from among the pool of mountaineers available with the IMF, volunteers will also be sought from ONGC to participate in the expeditions. In addition, villagers in the designated areas having experience of mountaineering will also be selected.

In phase one of the programme, carried out from August to September 2015, besides removing hazardous garbage generated by tourists, awareness was created among mountaineers and locals about the importance of eco-friendly measures to avoid stress on the environment. It covered Peak Stok Kangri in Ladakh region, Shigri Glacier region in Spiti valley and Tapovan in Gangotri region and Pindar area in Uttarakhand at a total cost of Rs 18.24 lakh.

Under Phase 2, cleaning operations were carried out on the banks of Gaumukh, Tapovan, Nandanvan and Gangotri as part of a drive to clean the sources of the Ganga of hazardous non-bio-degradable waste and other garbage. This phase was undertaken from May to October, 2016 at a total cost of Rs 14.38 lakh.

In Phase 3, the ONGC-IMF effort undertook cleaning expeditions in five locations of the Himalayan range that included Chanshal Valley (Shimla district) , Yamnotri in Uttarakhand, Anini/Mechuka of Himalayan range in Arunachal Pradesh and Sheshnag/Chandanwari, Pehalgam, Lidder river and Amarnath yatra route of Himalayan range of Jammu and Kashmir. These expeditions commenced from March this year and concluded in July at a cost of Rs 19.55 lakh.