McLeod Ganj is a suburb of Dharamsala in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. It is home to the Tibetan government-in-exile and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and as such it attracts a great number of tourists all year round.
As one of the most popular tourist destinations of northern India, it has become increasingly commercialized over the last few years. One significant effect of economic influx and progress in the town is environmental exploitation and degradation.
Survey Aims & Objectives
In an attempt to highlight key environmental problems and find solutions, Lha – a social work NGO based in McLeod Ganj – conducted a survey from 12 to 20th June to 107 business owners, residents and locals. It aimed to raise awareness of environmental issues within the community and to identify the public’s environmental priorities as well as their preferred solutions to them. The results of this survey will be passed onto the Municipal Corporation, the Clean Upper Dharamsala Programme (CUDP) and other relevant offices.
Results & Suggestions
The Main Square and Bhagsu Road – both very busy tourist spots – were highlighted by respondents as the dirtiest areas of McLeod Ganj. When asked what the most common environmental problems are, land pollution and motor vehicle emissions were the top responses, followed by noise.
1. Garbage Disposal
Land pollution/garbage was the first priority. A clear solution is installation of dustbins as this was the preferred method of garbage disposal. Many people recommended that shops install public dustbins and that a system be implemented for the disposal and collection of garbage in busy areas, including separating garbage for recycling. CUPD has proved effective, though the public feel its responsibilities should be increased and better incentives should be offered to workers. Fines and punishments were also suggested for people littering in the streets, although with written notice before any stringent action is taken. Many people proposed frequent mass clean-ups and an increase in the number of public convenience/toilets was also suggested to aid this issue.
2. Motor Vehicle Emissions
The second priority was motor vehicle congestion, including both traffic crowding and vehicle emissions. Since most vehicles are for tourists, it was proposed that the tourist influx be better managed and the number of private vehicles restricted. Noise pollution is another huge problem and traffic control would reduce this. Also suggested was a weekly “vehicle free zone”, encouraging people not to use motor vehicles for a particular day.
3. Sewage and Drainage
Improper sewage and drainage systems were another priority and frequent cleaning of these systems was suggested. Overflowing sewage damages roads, which in turn contributes to congestion and pollution. The public feel that roads are not well maintained here, and drainage problems are central to this.
4. Raising Awareness
100% of respondents said raising awareness is necessary, and prioritised community outreach programmes and door to door approaches for this purpose. Young people are a hugely important demographic for this, so special programmes in schools and other youth centres are advised. To support this movement social work should be given higher priority and more NGOs should be set up for the cause.
Lha would like to thanks all the people of the town to cooperating with us throughout the survey and especially we would like to thanks the volunteer mention below for conducting survey on our behalf.
1. Tenzin Shenye
2. Tenzin Dalha
3. Tsering Dolker
4. Kriti Raj Rai
5. Naini Chauhan