Lack of waste disposal system causes risk to Pangong Lake existence

By Stanzin Dasal LEH, Oct 14, 2016
he existence of Pangong Lake is in a big threat with the increasing tourism influx and lack of waste management and disposal system. The uncontrolled measures and absence of management have massively contributed to the destruction of the fragile eco-system. 

The picture perfect Pangong Lake has gain much of its attention and became a must-see tourist destination in Ladakh over the years because of the movie ‘3 Idiots’.  According to Police post-Tangtse, the total number of tourist visited the Pangong Lake from the month of May till August 2016 was 1, 29,254 including both the foreign and domestic tourist.

No. of tourist visited Pangong are as follows:

Month Foreign Indian Total
May 516 4,629 5,145
June 1,124 27,388 28, 512
July 11,500 47,884 59,384
August 6,365 29,848 36, 213
Total 19,505 1,09,749 1,29,254
This has surely given an economic boon leading to an increasing number of camps and restaurants at the Pangmik area which has changed the whole scenario. But along with this positive economic factor, no serious measures were taken to safeguard the fragile eco-system. 

Here the question arises is where the environmental fees have been used?
Secondly, an amount of ₹10 per person has been collected by the Shachukul monastery at Tangtse which itself is a big question mark? If all these funds are taken as an environmental fee, then why no efficient system for collection, treatment and safe disposal of garbage has been initiated till now.

The collection of the environmental fees was initiated by the 4th LAHDC council and approximately ₹4 Cr has been collected till 2015.  The amount is deposited under LAHDC fund and is not spent. The council has no financial power to spend the revenue generated without the consent of State Government.

Section 24 of the LAHDC Act bestows power to the council to impose certain taxes and fees but it has its own glaring limitation with regard to the management of the resources generated by the LAHDC. Sub para A (Para 1) of section 43 stipulates that all revenue raised under the provision of these act shall be credited into the Council fund which is operated through the treasuries. Para 5 of Section 43 reads the Government (State) may make rules for the management of Council fund.

EC Tourism, Tsering Sandup said, meetings for the utilization of this fund was supposed to happen in September but it got postponed and hopefully will be conducted in October.

Talking about the tourism plan on the waste management, he said a proposal of ₹30 crore has been made for the development and maintenance of the tourist destination area with a prior focus on the waste disposal and management system.

On one hand, we talk about safeguarding and conserving the environment whereas on the other hand the amount collected in the name of an environment has not been spend till now for the same. The increase in commercialization at Pangong Lake needs a proper plan to keep the beauty of the lake intact.

Stating illegal encroachment as one of the serious concern, Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Jigmet Takpa said, “the Supreme Court orders that no land in the protected area can be given to any person or any encroachment can be done in those areas without prior concern.” 
He further added that a notice has been issued to the people who have illegally used the land for commercial purpose and strict action will be taken if they fail to follow the order of the court.

Eco-guide, J&K tourism, Nawang Dorjay said, “There are lot number of camps around Pangong Lake and some of them are so into making money that they are not bothered about the environment damages caused by them. The wastes are not disposed of properly resulting in a negative impact on the wildlife and the environment.”

Illegal growing commercial set up by the outsiders, increasing number of tourists and lack of proper plan and management massively contributed to the damage of the environment. The strict practical implication is needed by the concerned authorities to make such important tourist destination area safe for the future because the day is not far it will be like the second Dal Lake of the J&K.