It is a blessing to people of areas who are surrounded by mountains and glaciers as they are amongst the very small community on this earth, who have fresh air, clean water and overall a healthy environment. There are many areas in Pakistan which are the real paradises due to landscapes and clean environment. People from all over the world in a large number visit these areas to make adventures and see the places which are a fascination and dream land for them. It would be a vast topic to talk about every single area which have attraction of their own beauty and environment. Let’s focus only one area, Hunza Valley, starting from Khizer abad, a village some 70 Km in North from Gilgit city to the Khunjerab border pass.
In the last three to four years it has been noticed that the flow of tourism in Hunza valley has increased but it expected more in the coming years. Especially, summer has always been favorite of tourists. Increase in the number of tourists means increase in the income of tourism industry. It is a welcoming action that tourism in Hunza Valley is reviving and consequently reviving the economic conditions of people associated to it. An economic change is being observed for last three years as domestic tourism is getting boom in the area.
It gives a relieving realization at one hand when we look into the economic change but on the other hand, it gives an alarming feeling when we look at the area after the tourists leave it contaminated. Thousands of people who make their way to areas where there is natural beauty they get linked to it, while enjoying and engaging with this beauty in one way or other they disturb the natural processes and eco -system. This disturbance goes on unnoticed or carelessly. Visitors enjoy, hosts make money but the silent and lovely nature is ruined.
When thousands of vehicle puff their smokes in the fresh air, they fill toxic gases in the environment causing unseen natural hazards to the plants and glaciers, when thousands of people visit these areas they throw the waste material giving an awkward look to the physical appearance to the beauty and polluting the waters and the lands. When thousands of people pluck the herbs and shrubs, they kill the natural beauty. They play a very vital role in the climate change and Global warming process. Still they return happy back to their homes.
The factor they do not realize, how they are disturbing the nature for the sack of their enjoyment? There are multiple factors. They are not informed about the value of the natural beauty and its importance, they are not briefed and to act friendly with the environment. People from the tourism department to the hotels and potters are just running after making money, they do not bother about the mishaps with nature. There are empty bottles, plastic bags, and other waste materials spread all the way from Hunza to Khunjerab Pass. It apprehends us what the Tourism Department of Gilgit-Baltistan is doing in this regard as a good amount of budget is allocated to make measurements to eradicate pollution.
Let’s be precise and talk about what practical actions we must take to keep the environment clean, to keep the glaciers and natural beauty safe and to preserve the nature. It is possible to accomplish the task if everyone living there and going there understands his duty and performs it on a regular base.
Here are some recommendations for this purpose
1: The Tourism department must keep a strict check and balance on tourists visiting these areas regarding waste management and vehicle fitness.
2: It is the responsibility of Tourism Department to ensure monitoring on transport services, hotels, tourist guides and potters and make them abide by the rules and regulations.
3: Locals can play a very important and vital role to keep their area clean and do not allow visitors make their home dirty.
4: Local NGOs and community organizations can aware the locals and visitors and help them keeping the area clean.
5: By involving the public offices like the District Commissioners and Police in charges, locals, NGOs and Tourism department can draft a code of conduct. Those who break it must be fined or punished.
It is important to stop polluting the areas by hook or by crook. Else it would be a very alarming situation in future for both the region and the people living there. Love yourself, love the nature and keep it clean.
Amjad Ali belongs from Shishkat, Gojal Hunza and writes on social,political and environmental issues of the region.