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Traffic, litter woes on Char Dham route

Locals Complain of 'Heavy Noise & Air Pollution' Due To Unprecedented Pilgrim Influx

Rishikesh/Rudraprayag/Chamoli: Even as the heavy pilgrim influx has set the cash registers of traders on the Char Dham route ringing, the huge pilgrim turnout is leading to issues like traffic congestion and waste littering in the towns that lie along the Char Dham yatra route.
                                   SPOT REPORT
"Police have created many diversions to keep the major chunk of traffic outside the city but tourists do enter the towns on the Char Dham route to explore. Areas around ISBT and Tapovan are witnessing round-the-clock traffic jams. The situation is such that cab drivers refuse to come to people's houses to pick them up citing jams. The pilgrim rush has been high since April and it doesn't seem to be going down in the coming weeks," said Khushi Garg, a resident of Muni-ki-Reti in Rishikesh.
Another grouse of locals is the increased garbage generation which is not being managed effectively leading to huge waste pile-ups. "Travelling doesn't mean that you forget civic sense. It is a common sight  to see people throw empty wrappers and bottles from their car windows on the road. Some of them even throw garbage down the mountainside or in Ganga which they are here to worship. It is saddening." said Garg.
The trend is evident not just in major towns like Rishikesh, Rudraprayag and Sonprayag but also in small towns and villages along the route. "I remember a time when very few vehicles used to pass from here. Now, a car passes through after every 30 seconds. Untill a few years ago, we never faced traffic jams here but now even if one person parks a four-wheeler wrongly on a narrow road, the whole market gets congested. We have never seen so many cars and it seems like our like town has lost its peace. Vehicles keep passing through even during the night," said 77-year-old Bajrang Chauhan, aresident of Agastyamuni in Rudraprayag, which falls on the Kedarnath route.
Locals have also complained of dust pollution that is arising because of the increased number of vehicles.
"This used to be a very clean stretch earlier but there is a lot of dust here now. Even worse is the nuisance some of these people create. Loud groups create a lot of ruckus in the name of travel," said Hemanti Pal, a vendor of woolen harments in Mana village, a popular tourist destination ahead of Badrinath.
While the increased footfall has been good for business, it has left a strong impact on the ecology and the daily lives of the residents of these towns. Will the government, that is focusing on the success of the yatra, also take care of these concerns?

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