Cause – Waste Management in the Himalayas

Snow Marathon Lahaul is being organised to bring awareness and action towards perhaps what is the biggest challenge being faced by the Himalayas, that of Waste Management.

The highly fragile Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) ecosystem extends from the Indus River in the west to the Brahmaputra River in the east across 533,604 sq km. IHR is about 16.2% of India’s total geographical area, and has 16,627 glaciers, covering 40,563 sq km and a forest cover of about 205,563 sq km, which is 38.52% of the total IHR geographical area. IHR supports the livelihood of 50 mn human beings and is home thousands of species of plants, animals and birds, many of which are critically endangered. The snow fed glaciers form an essential source of North Indian Rivers. This downstream flow of glacial melt fulfils the water requirements of the humans residing across the Indo-Gangetic plains of India. The Himalayas is also known as the Third Pole of the planet due to the amount of snow and water present in the region, a life giving resource, which is threatened by man.

With the growing population, Solid Waste Management (SWM) is a big environmental challenge and a clear and present threat to the eco-sensitive IHR. There is negligible SWM facilities in IHR. SWM is even more challenging in the highlands due to the remoteness, topographical configuration, increasing urbanization, and harsh climate. Majority of the waste is openly dumped or burnt, which is adversely affecting the fragile IHR ecosystem. Unsegregated waste is polluting the freshwater streams, and burning is a major pollutant, which is linked to the glacier melt. The current state of SWM is threatening the entire IHR ecosystem, the humans living in the IHR and other humans who are dependent on IHR and not to forget the entire flora and fauna of IHR.

With Snow Marathon Lahaul, we aim to sensitize the masses – locals and travellers – on the perils posed by mindless waste generation in the Himalayas and the current state of negligible solution on the ground to tackle the problem. All profits from the event will go towards the ongoing and future projects of Waste Management in the region being carried out by various grass root organizations actively working in the field, one such project being SHIWA initiated by Prem Varsha Trust. With Snow Marathon Lahaul, we also plan to set an example of zero carbon footprint travel and organising events of this nature.