Why not, provded we have a will to do so!
Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to Kashmir every year. We have a Tourism Department with budgetary allocations to maintain the standard of tourism in Kashmir. But all is not rosy about Kashmir tourism. The ground situation of tourist spots and tourist culture as a whole in the State is depressing. Human contribution to the grand natural beauty of Kashmir is almost zero.
Swami Amarnath yatra
The number of pilgrims to Amarnath Cave this year has been about 4 lac. The Yatra began on 25 June and will terminate on 2 August (incidentally today). Out of four lac yatris, 99 per cent come by road, some in their own vehicles and others hire local transport. The journey from Lakhanpur to Baltal--the beginning and the end points-- takes at least two days. Imagine the quantum of litter, refuse and garbage left behind by a crowd of 5 laky souls while moving on the wheels. The entire path of nearly 400 kilometers presents a look of desolation with refuse littered on both sides of the road.There are no urinals, toilets and bathrooms along this 400 kilometer length not even for women. Males and boys urinate or defecate wherever they like to and women go behind the dense bushes or trees to ease themselves. Imagine the pollution and dirt it causes. Is this tourism? Is this Yatra? Whole River Sindh is polluted from Baltal.Tourists who travel by their private vehicles would like to pass the night inside their vehicles in case accommodation is not available in hotels. But they need toilets, and in absence of these, they defecate or urinate in open. It is such an ugly and shameful scene.
The influx of Yatris to Mata Vaishnov Devi shrine has crossed 1.1 crore annually. But because there are not adequate arrangements of accommodation, toilets and bathrooms for them, they respond to the call of nature on the roadside, in open space available, in parks and by the water bodies and forests. Thus from Lakhanpur up to the Vaishnov Devi shrine, the road on both sides is littered with garbage. There is no dustbin to deposit the used stuff in it. When visitors are in such a large number one can imagine how much pressure does it means on the environment and services. Most of the human refuse goes into water bodies and pollutes it.In absence of private or government accommodation for the pilgrims hundreds of thousands of yatris are forced to spend a night or two on verandas, in the forests or roadside. They are forced by non availability of adequate arrangement to spend the nights in open. There are no sarais or dormitories in which the yatris would spend the night. Common sense says that only such number of yatris should be allowed to enter as can be accommodated by this existing accommodation. Alternatively, for all incoming pilgrims-tourists adequate arrangements in essential services should be provided.