This Saturday, High Court passed an advisory, asking all the camps and tents from Kheerganga to be removed. It is being said that the growing waste and plastic collection on the way to the route, considered holy by many is being destroyed by blatant trekking and commercialization. While the growing tourism is responsible for this, the local authorities not taking a corrective measure on time also contributed to this issue.
Kheerganga is one of the easiest day trek in Himachal. Being present at an accessible distance, and a few kilometres from Kasol, makes Kheerganga the perfect weekend trek in Himachal. In the last 5 years, the crowd on weekend treks including Kheerganga and Triund has increased beyond any control.
The empty meadows of Kheerganga played a perfect place for the campers to lay their tents. But this soon became a problem as the spot became a victim of travel abuse. Forget tents, permanent settlement made of bricks and mortars started coming up and the entire area before the Kheerganga hot spring got filled with tents, campsites and stay homes.
The first time I had gone on Kheerganga in the year 2014, the place was practically empty, even in the month of May. Last year, it was crowded with tourists and had turned into a place for drunkards to create a ruckus.
The notice for the campsites to pack and move was issued two months ago. On Sat, 26th May, all the cafés and restaurants were asked to leave because the high-altitude meadow fell in forest land and no commercial activity is allowed in such places.
Now that staying is not allowed in Kheerganga, does it mean that we are not allowed to trek.
Well, the rule comes with certain clauses. Tourists are allowed to trek, camping will be allowed after taking a permit from the forest department.
Collect your trash on the way
Kheerganga ban comes with a clause that after camping, you’ll have to return with a certain amount of trash on your way to Kasol. This is a good thing as in recent times the place became a victim to irresponsible tourism. Now the same tourists are asked to bring back their trash.
For the last few years, NGOs like Healing Himalayas have been working for the cleaning of Parvati Valley but there is no solution. The more they clean, the double waste is collected in a week. This issue has found a solution as now you’ll have to come back with the trash, doesn’t matter who threw it.
I don’t how that for how long this rule will work as the route is also a destination for some bigger treks. There are spots from where these establishments can move, but by the time they find a loophole, a large part of Parvati Valley will be cleaned up.
*This report will be updated with further developments.