Authorities in tourist hotspot Leh have put 65 tonnes of waste to productive use after the ecologically sensitive region’s garbage output went up drastically following the release of 3 Idiots on Christmas day nine years ago, drawing tourists in hordes. “The 65,000 kg of waste was first collected from the Choglamsar, Nubra, Nimo and Khaltsi areas this year. While 27,000 kg waste was sold to scrap dealers, 17,000 kg of cardboard, egg trays and other agriculture waste was reused for recyclable products like biofuel and bricks. Paper and cloth waste were used for making decorative items,” Deputy Commissioner (Leh) Avny Lavasa told The Hindu . Recycle, upcycle Project Tsang-da, initiated by the district administration this year, aims at sustainable waste management in rural areas of Leh district and city.
“For the first time, the project turned the waste into revenue-generating goods, such as curtains, toys and cushion covers. Wine or beer bottles and other broken glasses were also reused in construction of roads and buildings by local construction companies,” said Ms. Lavasa. The vast cold desert region of Leh is home to a small population of 1.47 lakh people. Around three lakh tourists visited Ladakh in 2018, a quantum jump from 79,087 tourists in 2009, the year 3 Idiots came in the public eye for locations like the Pangong Lake, straddling India and China. “Yes, the amount of waste has gone up due to the tourist footfalls,” said Ms. Lavasa.
During peak tourist season, Leh city collects 16 to 18 tonnes of waste per day, and annual waste production stands at an alarming 374 tonnes. The region, from a hydrological point of view, is the source of some major waterways in the sub-continent, such as the Indus river system.