What are we doing to our environment ? I took this picture in the Kumaon ranges in the HImalayas on the way to Mukhteshwar. I remember travelling here looking for locations for Masoom, my first movie. These were untouched places of immense beauty. This picture was shot at a point where people come to get views of the great Nanda Devi ranges. The second highest peak in the world. The ‘Langur’ that I photographed in this picture looked completely baffled by the rubbish left behind by the tourists, and then she gradually accepted her destiny started to rummage for food in the plastic and other rubbish. Like a stray dog on a rubbish dump in the city…..
All over I the Kumaon ranges the rich had cut into the mountains to build houses without any thought of the beauty of the mountains. Ugly structures sprouted everywhere. Nainital, Bhimtal and way beyond had turned into stinking streets amidst unbridled construction –
and the first thing that you see is not the hills, nor the green forests, but the immense amount of plastic ! the water bottles, the paan masala sachets ,- the plastic covers of chips and kurkere – any thing else that is bad for you – (the city ad agencies can sell you and the kids anything) – strewn everywhere. This plastic is choking the lilly ponds, clogging the water drains, making the local wild life sick.
There was a time when we travelled in the Kumaon ranges we loved to eat the fresh apples, the pears, the roasted chestnuts, the tender and raw walnuts, and at a stretch we would even eat bananas. These would be our snacks – all coming in organic bio degradable shells provided by nature. and so much more nutritious !
The construction is weakening the hill sides and causing landslides. To shore the mountains up people are puring concrete into the mountain sides that are turning the once beautiful and pristine mountains into unsustainable concrete jungles.
Why unsustainable ? Because the hills will soon run out of water. The new entrants are not the local people who have learnt over generations to respect and care for the environment – to live in harmony with it. These are city people building homes that express their ego’s rather than harmony in the beauty they have chosen, these are tourists that have no investment or love for the places they are visiting.
This is endemic. It cannot last – and if you think this is all – I was told that (and I did not see it because of the monsoons) that a brief view of the majestic Nanda Devi range was devoid of it’s snow peaks !!! N snow on Nanda Devi ? That’s impossible. But if true, we are in deep deep trouble,