Shikhar Eco Foundation has clubbed hands with the Forest Department, WWF India and the Agora village community to clean up Dodital Lake and trek route and discard the non-biodegradable litter left by the end of the tourist season before snowfall. Along the same line, we carried out an intense four-day expedition running from 7th to 11th November 2010. During this drive twenty-five sacks of non-biodegradable garbage was brought to Sangamchatti for recycling purposes. This is the first time concerted efforts to clean up the Dodital lake was carried out with such a vigor.
A team led by Rajbeer Rana, Senior Manager and Passang Sherpa, instructor adventure Department, Shikhar Travels with support from Dr Sanjeev Sharma, Senior Project Officer WWF India (Himachal Pradesh) and Man Singh Panwar, Kamal Singh, Suman and thirteen other village youths from Agora village cleaned the Dodital lake and trek route to dispose off the non-biodegradable litter. Twenty-five sacks full of non-biodegradable waste were brought on six mules hired for this purpose. Fifteen sacks were collected from around the Dodital lake, five from the camping site at Majhi and rest from Bebra and Agora village. The refuse included all sorts of non-biodegradable stuffs, like glass bottles, mineral water bottles, tin cans, polythene and Gutkha packets. The material has already sent to Sangamchatti where it will undergo recycling processes.
The best part of the entire exercise was the involvement of village community into it. This was made possible because of the efforts from Capt. Swadesh Kumar, who during the ATOAI meet in Dehradun two years back, advocated for the inclusion of a villager for encouraging Rural Tourism. Capt. Kumar, the CMD of Shikhar Travels, runs Shikhar Nature Resort at Uttarkashi. He chose Agora, the first Rural Tourism village in Uttarakhand to be funded by Ministry of Tourism Govt. of India for this initiative. However, he went a step further and laid the foundations of Shikar Eco-Foundation. Under this, we had already organized a two-day hospitality-training course for as many as twenty-one youths from Agora, and Of those twenty-one, eleven were lodge owners.
Incidentally, the purpose of Shikhar Eco-Foundation is multidimensional. In addition to keeping the environment clean and green, Capt Kumar also has vision for job creation in the tourism industry. In order to achieve the same, Shikhar Eco-Foundation is also working to ensure jobs for at least twenty youths from Agora before the next tourist season sets off.