This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Impact of Adventure Sports on The Holy Ganges

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Girija S. Semuwal:

The present state of the holy river Ganges has been a subject of great concern within public discourse over the past few months. Most recently, the Prime Minister (PM) of India stated that we must act in time otherwise it might be difficult to save the river. He talked about the very urgent need for implementing measures to prevent discharge of sewage and industrial effluents into the river.

Uttarakhand, the state where river Ganga originates, is especially important because it has two important locations — Rishikesh and Haridwar — from where the Ganga begins to get polluted. Recently, ‘Save Ganga’ activists led by noted environmentalist Swami GD Agarwal — whose fast in 2009 stopped the damming of River Bhagirathi — agitated against hydro-power projects in the state. Hydro-power projects, it is argued, lead to submergence of villages, drying of water sources and disturbance of ecology by interrupting the flow of the river.

These are obviously crucial issues pertaining to saving the Ganges. But the river faces another issue – more so in Uttarakhand and one that is not heard of very often — pollution and ecological imbalance due to eco-tourism and adventure sports.

In the backdrop of the issue is the natural lure of River Ganga, which offers uncommon environmental diversity, captivating scenery and a remarkable adventure and wilderness experience. This encourages tourism on the bank of the river that involves camping, white-water rafting and kayaking.

The river-rafting belt of Ganga in Uttarakhand, near Rishikesh, is popular among adventure-sport lovers and sees thousands of national and international tourists every year. This nearly 40 km stretch, upstream from Rishikesh, has assumed great significance within the state’s economy. Available stats show rapid growth in this form of tourism as the number of tourist increased from 17,063 in 2004 to 76,368 in 2009-10 and the number of camping and rafting agencies increased from 27 in 2004 to 105 in 2008-09.

But use of the river for recreational purposes is impacting the river environment negatively. An important social survey conducted by scientists of the G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (Garhwal Unit) in 2006-2007 found water pollution, displacement of wildlife, loss of vegetation and cultural degradation as resulting directly from commercial river rafting and camping activities. Subsequent studies found forest pollution, soil compaction and disturbance of water channels at popular rafting sites.

Despite there being rules and regulations in place for maintaining the sanctity of the river and its surroundings, frequent violation of these institutional norms has been happening, threatening the river environment and ecology.

Official guidelines restrict the area allotted to camping companies, but camp operators are given to using more area of the beach than what’s allotted to them and making toilets near the living tents, close to the sand bank. Most toilet tent locations and dry soak pits get submerged when the level of river water rises during the monsoons and this washes away old deposits of fecal matter into the river.

Solid wastes generated from camp sites are not allowed to be dumped near the river, but are to be disposed only through municipal dustbins. Use of fuel wood for lighting campfires and detergents for washing utensils and clothes is strictly prohibited.

In sharp contravention, tourists conveniently use detergents in the river water and throw ashes and unconsumed wood from campfires into the river. Although the Forest Officer can inspect a camp site any time without prior information, this doesn’t deter tourists from lighting camp fires and playing music beyond permissible time limits. Some have even been spotted with fishing rods at various river locations during the peak camping season, listless about the absolute forbiddance of fishing.

Although local people usually favor the rafting business as they get chances to earn some livelihood, they are taken aback by the drunken revelry of tourists and general disregard towards the holy river – as they throw polythene, wrappers and various kinds of bottles into it.

River-rafting and camping activities like playing loud music and lighting fires have also disturbed the fauna of the area. Wild animal sightings have reduced drastically with the exception of wild boars and monkeys who come for eating leftovers at campsites. According to locals, prior to the camping and rafting activities, animals were frequently spotted on the river side while drinking water or resting on the sand beach; now they are not visible in the area for months, especially during the camping and rafting season.

After the widening of the highway between Badrinath—Rishikesh, vehicular traffic increased greatly, and construction of houses, shops and hotels added to the ecological disturbance. Studies note particularly that forests of the narrow Ganga valley between Devprayag and Rishikesh have been severely affected by the booming commercial camping and whitewater rafting industry.

The issue is yet to receive the attention it deserves from the state government and local authorities. For now, only environmentalists lament the deterioration of the river Ganga in the Kaudiyala-Rishikesh eco-tourism zone.

This is the sad reality.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By PRASANTA PATRI

By Chitra Rawat

By Soumya Sinha

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below