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HomeTravelIt’s time to re-invent tourism in Himachal Pradesh

It’s time to re-invent tourism in Himachal Pradesh

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Most of the hill destinations in Himachal were developed by British people only. Governments have failed to develop even a single hill top after British era. It has resulted in overburdening of hill valleys damaging the ecology of the region.

Now there is a hue and cry in tourism industry these days after COVID has caused a devastation in this sector. Earlier, NGT and High Court had ordered closure of illegal hotels and restricted various other tourism activities that are damaging the ecology of this hill state. The move had resulted in closure of 40 hotels Kasol and 145 hotels in Dharamshala, the also faced disconnection of their power and water supplies.

President of the hoteliers association, Ashwani Bamba who owns properties in Shimla, Manali and Mcleodganj said that pandemic has severely affected the tourism activities in Himachal Pradesh. He said that travel agents across the country and international level are not taking making bookings to Dharamshala or Manali and they are diverting them to other tourism destinations, this practice is has started from last almost three years.

Deepak Deewan owner of Destination travel agency, a prominent travel agent with an experience of last 30 years, who use to deal mostly with foreign clients, says that private investment to the state has also stopped.

“There are various entrepreneurs and big chains who were interested to invest in Himachal Pradesh have no dropped their plans. I was in touch with many travel chains across the world that were going to start their activities related to health and tourism in Himachal but they have changed their mindset now” he said.

Other travel agents told that they had permanent clients every year Gujarat and Maharashtra but they too have not visited Himachal for last two years. Earlier in 2016, NGT actively restricted various activities. Then High court intervention has also impacted the inflow of the tourists.

Government authorities responsible for mess

Most of the hill destinations have now turned in concrete jungle due to the illegal constructions or their impact on the tourism. Many private players have blamed state level authorities too stating that they were acting as mute spectators from last many years. This is also one of the reasons that they are facing brunt of the same.

They questioned that where were the tourism department, pollution department, town and country department and other district authorities when these constructions have come up. Those who were facing actions have demanded that officers involved into this should also be nabbed as they have misguided them.

“We have invested our hard-earned money only after getting the consent and guidance of the local authorities. They should have warned us before, it is only because of them that we are facing these days” said a prominent member of hoteliers association requesting anonymity.

But on the other hand officials of the government department have a complaint that it is the untimely transfers which hampers the works. “Till the time an officer is at the stage to understand the issue of the area, he or she gets transferred for not fulfilling the requirements of the politicians or their supporters. It is not our fault system needs to be changed” said a senior most bureaucrat who doesn’t want him to be quoted.

Constructions models need a overhaul in Himachal

Architects visiting this area have a different view for this hill state. They say, what is the need of putting up so much concrete on the hilly slopes? It is a threat to life and property in Himachal.

“In other foreign countries there are different policies of construction which are not harmful for the environment and for the owners also. In Australia I have seen waffle pod construction method it is safe and needs less investment” said Atul Srivastva an Architect from Delhi who is routine visitor to this state.

Arvind Sharma, one of the traveler who had explored Himachal said that he had travelled all the areas of Himachal Pradesh. The construction methods of the ancestors in this hill state was successful, he said. “They had built mud houses which are safe during earthquakes also. It needs fewer repairs and less investment” he said.

Ambrish Kumar Mahajan, a known geologist of the area said that Himachal has various earthquake sensitive zones and constructions needs to be done with proper care. “It is not the earthquake but buildings kills the people. Proper planning is required to built structures here” he said.

Environmental scientists suggest responsible tourism

Environmental scientists in Himachal Pradesh have a grudge that they were never consulted by any government to suggest the ways to protect the ecology of the area. They say that politicians are interested to do foreign tours in name of sustainable development of state but they never consider local scientists of the area.

“First of all hotels should take the responsibility of their waste management. They should plan the ways to manage the kitchen waste, sanitation and others. Only after this a certificate should be issued to them by the tourism department” said Sanjay Sharma, a scientists based at Hamirpur.

Deepak Pant, environmental scientists in Central University who has developed a instrument to produce gas out of waste and a president awardee says that banning polythene is not the only solution. “There is a green building concept which states that a building should be constructed in such a manner that every room has sunlight. A proper management to deal with every type of the waste, either human waste or kitchen waste” he said.

A bio-gas plant unit can also be installed by the hotels to turn the gas out of waste, he said. Scientists said that there are various equipments in market which can be used to produce electricity or can produce energy to heat the water by the waste. “These are all environment friendly and can be installed easily govt should consider this” said Pant.

Famous tourist destinations in Himachal

· Most of the hill stations in Himachal have been developed by the British people only. There is no prominent destination which has been discovered or developed by the state government.

· Shimla – Kullu – Manali – Dharamshala – Kasauli – Mcleodganj – Dharamshala – Palampur – Kangra – Dalhousie – Chamba – Khajiar.

· Apart from this there are many other destinations too which are being explored by the Bikers, trekkers under adventure tourism.

· Many villages near famous hill destinations are also coming up as off road designations. Homes stays have enabled these villages to come up as new tourist’s destinations. 

Tourist inflow increasing in Himachal Pradesh

· Tourism sector contributes to major revenue share of the state. There are 17 projects undergoing costing 900 crore rupees.

· There are 2546 guest houses/hotels having bed capacity of 68537 registered with the Tourism Department till 2016 end against 1358 in 2015. The guest house and hotels registered with the department have increased their bed capacity over 5 000 in a year.

· 58 hotels across the state were owned by the HPTDC. These hotels have bed capacity of 2332 beds.

· State outlay plan for tourism in 1956-61 was Rs 0.002 crore which has increased to Rs 110.58 crore for the 12th Plan (2012-17) thus recorded an increase of 129.84 per cent over the previous Outlay Plans. Tourism is one of the key factors that contributed in gross state domestic product (GSDP).

Number of tourists visited Himachal (in crores)

2009 – 1.14 cr

2010 – 1.32 cr

2011 – 1.50 cr

2012 – 1.61 cr

2013 – 1.51 cr

2014 – 1.63 cr

2015 – 1.75 cr

2016 – 4.52 cr

2017 – 1.89 cr

Glaciologist view on the problem

Climate change is the major concern of the whole world and glaciologist believe that cement structures have an impact on this. They say mother earth needs to be protected and alternate ways need to be considered.

Anurag Linda, a famous glaciologist says that concrete structures can also change        the microclimate of any place by changing the energy budget (incoming and outgoing solar radiation) of a localized region that can lead to unexpected meteorological hazards such as cloud burst, heavy rainfall, Haze, smog etc. 

Concrete structures can also hamper the surface hydrology of any place which can lead to landslides and water logging by changing the natural drainage pattern, he said.

“So I can say confidently “Need not to save the mother earth, it can take care of itself, save yourself”” he added.

He said that almost all of the glaciers in our country are valley glaciers i.e. it is confined to valleys only.

He said that these glaciers are very sensitive to local phenomenon’s that is occurring in the vicinity of the glacier. “It can be hampered by anthropogenic activities like burning of fuels, burning of forests, increasing the aerosol load in the atmosphere due to construction work etc this activities can lead to unhealthy atmospheric fallouts in the form of dusts and black carbon that can easily accelerate the rate of glacier melting in a particular valley” said.

A top scientist at agriculture university said that due to climate change every year water level lowering in Punjab by one meter. “In meteorological data the snowfall on Dhauladhar ranges of Himachal was about 450 meters in 1987 but it has come down to 50 mtr now” he said.

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