Cleaning up Mt Everest

Cleaning up Mt Everest

The environment ministers of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Burma and India are likely to meet soon to work out a clean-up programme for the Himalaya. The idea for the 'Save Himalaya' meet was mooted by Edmund Hillary, the first person to conquer Mount Everest, and M S Kohli, chairperson of the Himalayan Environment Trust (HET). HET adviser Karan Singh invited non-governmental organisations to participate in the meet so that they could initiate conservation work at the grassroot level.

The proposal was taken up enthusiastically by Indian minister for environment and forests Kamal Nath, who indicated that India would be happy to initiate such a meet. The meet, he said, will help supplement the Indian government's ecoconservation measures launched under the Himalayan Action Plan.

Pointing out the urgent need for halting degradation of the mountain range, Hillary said, "The route to Mt Everest, at 26,000 feet above sea level, has become the highest dump heap in the world." Earlier, Bachendri Pal, the first woman to conquer the peak, had said one could reach the peak now by just following the trail of Coca Cola cans.

"I am partly to blame for the condition of the Himalaya," said Hillary, referring to the publicity he has given the mountain range. He is now actively involved with HET, whose major achievement was the formulation of a Himalayan code of conduct, now accepted by all international tourist and trekking organisations.

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