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Littering at Tattapani triggers eco-concern

Even as pilgrims continue to throng the Tattapani bathing ghats for a holy dip since Makar Sankranti for the last three days, environmentalists have expressed their concern over large-scale dumping of abandoned clothes and bathing gear along the banks of the pilgrimage spot. The litter, in turn, find its way into the Sutlej and the upcoming 800 MW Kol Dam downstream, they rue.

This correspondent spotted abandoned clothes in the 500-m-long bathing ghat from the lower end where the women pilgrims took the holy dip to the higher end. The entire area was littered with the abandoned clothes around the bathing hot springs as hordes of pilgrims took the last holy dip here on Makar Sankranti. The bathing ghats would be submerged in the Kol Dam in 315 days time.

The Sutlej bore the brunt of the dumped material. Some could be seen throwing clothes directly into the flowing river.

Pilgrims left behind clothes, going by a myth that by doing so, they leave behind bad stars and omen following a dip in the holy hot springs after performing the Tula Daan (weighing ritual), claimed local purohits.

"We know it is a bad practice. But it is difficult to advise lakhs of pilgrims and tourists, who come here throughout the year as the river side looks dirty and can get choked," said Bhupinder Sharma, a local purohit.

The hot bath sprouted here after sage Jamadani meditated here 100 years ago and it is wrong to defile the place, he added.

The local panchayat committee gathered the abandoned material left behind by the pilgrims and disposed it of by burning it, said the panchayat members.

They have advised the administration to put up signboards asking pilgrims not to dump clothes in the bathing ghats, said Prem Raina, who runs a hot springs resort here.

SDM Karsog Vivek Chauhan said they had directed the panchayat to engage rag-pickers to collect the litter and dispose it of safely. "We did not take extra care this time as the area is getting submerged in the Kol Dam. More than 1.5 lakh pilgrims visit the spot this year on Makar Sankranti and it was difficult to manage the crowds," he added.

The Tribune (18-01-2014)