Amarnath Yatra becomes the first pilgrimage to be a zero waste yatra

SrinagarWritten By: Idrees LoneUpdated: Aug 01, 2022, 03:10 PM IST
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One of the most sought-after pilgrimage routes in India is the Amarnath Yatra. However, the pilgrimage often produces tonnes of garbage that is not disposed off properly in the delicate mountainous area. This time, the government has paired up with an IIT startup to clean up the mess

For the first time in the history of Amarnath Yatra, Jammu and Kashmir government has ensured that the Yatra will be a zero-waste pilgrimage. The Jammu and Kashmir government is making sure that the pilgrimage does not impact or affect the environment. More than 300 volunteers have been stationed to collect and process the waste produced around the various routes. 

Around 10 tonnes of waste is produced every day along the Amarnath Yatra route from both the base camps. And this time, the government has made sure that the waste is processed on the spot. The Directorate of sanitation, the rural development department along with IIT Indore's 'SWAHA' start-up have started this initiative which could lead as an example for the rest of the country. 

''It is a very unique kind of programme, the first time in India that a particular religious event that too of a massive scale is being organised in such a way that it becomes a zero-landfill event and a sustainable one. So, because of the help and steps taken by the rural development department of Kashmir, we have been given the responsibility as a start-up, we are from Indore, and it's called SWAHA that we make this yatra zero landfill and a sustainable one,'' said Sameer Sharma, Director SWAHA. 

More than 12 processing units have been placed along the route. The organic waste is converted into compost and inorganic waste is further segregated and sent across to the recycling units. "Whatever waste is being generated in this yatra has to be taken care of very scientifically, we have been collecting the waste, we have to process it and dispose of it off. It will be a great benchmark for all such events across the nation," said Sameer. 

The wastebins carried by the volunteers

''There is a complete plan that we designed with the government. We have two axes from Pahalgam and Baltal. We have established 12 points where we have put up our waste management units, our responsibility is to take care of the waste process and all the waste that's collected. We have to segregate it, one is dry and another one is organic waste, we convert the organic waste into compost and for the inorganic waste we have to further segregate it into 12 categories and then we compress it. Later, we take it to our recycling unit and our associates make different products out of it." added the startup director. 

The government of Jammu and Kashmir had said that around 5-6 lakh pilgrims will take the 'Yatra' this year. Experts say that a person normally generates 500gms of waste a day and at Amarnath 10 tonnes of waste is produced per day. 

 Amarnath Yatra becomes first pilgrimage to be a Zero waste yatra

The government is also working on a plan to make the Yatra smoke-free as well. They have introduced huge solar pressure cookers around the Amarnath route to get rid of the LPG and woodfire usage in the community kitchens.