Haryana man on mission to clean up Himalayan trash

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Pradeep Sangwan is on a mission to clean up the Himalayas of rubbish left behind by tourists. For this purpose, he established the Healing Himalayas Foundation six years ago.

His foundation has set up five material recovery facilities in Himachal Pradesh for the mission.

“Approximately, we collect around 1.5 tonnes of non-biodegradable waste daily from the five facilities, which otherwise would have been buried or burned in the open,” says Sangwan, 37, from Gurugram in Haryana. which was praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his ”Mann ki Baat” speech in December 2020.

Sangwan says the projects of his foundation, which relies on voluntary donations, focus on clean-up campaigns, waste management and other activities in the rural Himalayan region.

Each December, Sangwan prepares a calendar for the following year and the volunteers plan their trips accordingly.

“While going up for a trek, we pick up all the trash. Mainly, we find plastic bottles, multi-layer packaging plastic waste, and then we store them at a place on the course. On the way back, we take him back to the base village and transport him to the nearest facility,” he explains.

Sangwan says that during his studies at DAV College in Chandigarh, he came into contact with students from Himachal Pradesh, with whom he started exploring the state in 2007-08.

After moving to the state in 2009, he undertook many journeys and during which he met a group of people from the “gaddi” (shepherd) community of Lahaul. He was impressed to see how much, even in a very remote area, they cared so much about their surroundings.

His foundation set up its first waste collection and sorting unit two years ago in Rakcham near Chitkul of Kullu district, followed by four more facilities in Mansari (Kullu), Pooh (Kinnaur), Tabo (Spiti ) and Narkanda (Shimla).

Rakcham unit is close to Chitkul, popularly known as India’s last village along the international border.

”We look forward to building two or three more facilities over the next year in remote locations. Its importance is like that of a school or a primary health care centre, at least in my opinion, and it must be carried out by the communities as well,” he says.

”But realizing the fact that we still transport our waste to other states for recycling which generates a lot of carbon footprint, we need to develop a holistic ecosystem of collection, storage, segregation and recycling of solid waste at the level of the district,” he added.

Sangwan says his foundation is working with the Department of Environment, Science and Technology, the Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board and the State Forestry Department to set up factory.

“Easier said than done, our biggest hurdle in topography like Himachal Pradesh is getting the land to the desired location to keep operations and maintenance sustainable. This has become my goal now and I hope that by the end of 2023 we will be able to set up two such facilities in Himachal Pradesh,” he says.

Sangwan says they often encountered people throwing beer and other glass bottles carelessly. Sometimes cattle are injured when glass gets stuck in their hoof, he says.

Sangwan says that this year, Healing Himalayas Foundation volunteers took a small step towards the growing problem of solid waste management during the Manimahesh Yatra by embarking on the journey and bringing back 3.5 tons of discarded materials. and handing them over to the Chamba Municipal Corporation.

With this, we aim to educate tourists to “travel with purpose” and to be more aware of the impact of their actions on the natural environment, says Sangwan.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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