Many tourists take to the Himalayas in search of tranquillity, self-recognition or for the mere thrill of treks proving the intricacies of human relationship with nature. This is where virtual pursuits turn into commercial gains. Setting aside the environmental ignorance, the government opened 137 peaks in four states to foreigners for mountaineering and trekking on August 21, 2019. The economic gains from this initiation are massive. It is undoubtedly a beneficial move for the economy, an ideal for neoliberalism.
Environmental Concerns Veiled By Revenue GenerationThe existing set of guidelines for supervising mountain tourism are not regulated. The Uttarakhand high court prohibited stately adventure sports as it perceived to be lacking in governmental regulation by the state. But considering the international track record, this new tourist opening is set to adversely impact the mountains and bring forth dangerous environmental conditions.
Fighting for the Mountains
Upon expert identification of the adversities of high-altitude tourism in the 1990s, a meeting was organised by the British Mountaineering Council in 1993. The meeting concluded that mountains should not be treated as “giant cash cows.'' However, this conclusion did not stop the tourism industry from proceeding with liberal laws that are mostly indifferent to regulatory guidelines. Thus, leading to an elevated adverse situation in the interest of economic benefits.
Continued treks are going to affect the health of the mountainous regions. The Everest Summit was undertaken by 38 climbers in 1993 which eventually shot up to 234 in 2012. Nepal registered 200 climbers on May 22 this year, proving a massive growth rate.
Significance of the Himalayas
The Himalaya holds the world’s third-largest ice mass, including 46,298 glaciers. Housing over 52.7 million people, these mighty mountains cover approximately 0.4% of Earth’s total surface area. The drainage river basins originating among these peaks are home to approximately 600 million people. The Himalayas undoubtedly offer a shoulder to our ecology and a security blanket to our ecosystem.
Preparing For New RoutesIn the interest of the opening new routes, the following preparations are being undertaken:
- The Centre would construct walkways and roads leading to a campsite clearance.
- The green cover would be lost resulting in soil erosion and a change of stream-course.
- This new environment would pave the way for more pollution.
- Wildlife, Flora and fauna will be the most disturbed sector.
How Tourism Is Paving Way To InjusticeThe Significance of Tourism
Tourism in the remote areas are undertaken to enhance the prosperity and living conditions. However, a significant chunk of generated revenue is taken away by the non-local tours companies, which therefore affects resident shares who end up receiving about nil.
Adventure tour companies are relentless with their profit maximisation strategies. Tourists are usually people with money to spare, so tour operators bank on these travellers this gaining considerable profits. With such efforts, waiting in queues for the Everest Summit might be a new adventure that one may have to undertake. Then again, elite adventurers are looking for significant challenges. Thus taking advantage of this, recreational tourism paves the way.
Tourism is Proportionate to Economy
The democratisation of such sports by extending more routes to such challenges is not a very rational decision. It will turn the solitary sectors soon into urban settlements. Tours also find the key to growing revenue by offering such adventures in their packages.
No doubt, some dedicated climbers hold the zest to conquer the summit and documenters who bring these magnificent landscape sights into your drawing rooms. One such awe-inspiring example would be the American climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson who scaled the Dawn Wall, a 3,000-foot-high rock face in Yosemite National Park, in 2015. The footage was released in theatres last year.
But with increasing foot-fall, such a mindset might take a backseat with the overcrowding and convention of the sport. Even more so, the livelihood of those in the mountains will be severely hampered.
Other ConcernsThe Kanchenjunga is one of the 137 peaks that are now open to citizens. However, the local population considers it sacred, while people are allowed to scale the mountain, they are prevented from standing on top of it and from climbing it. The government will likely make an exception for these beliefs, but it will take away the faith and charm of it.
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