The picturesque hill station of Auli in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand is battling the aftereffects of a grand Indian wedding. Weeklong celebrations have turned the town into a dump yard with forty quintal (4,000 kilograms) of garbage. The town is paying the price for wedding grandeur worth Rs 200 crore.
After the wedding celebrations concluded, in the last three days, the local municipal authority has collected 235 quintals of garbage. The task of cleaning the town has been given to twenty sanitation workers and a few other volunteers. Media glare and Uttarakhand High Court vigilance have forced the authorities to pull out all stops and ensure Auli’s sanctity is restored soon.
A status report has to be submitted to the High Court by the District Administration and Pollution Control Board on July 7th. Meanwhile, the Gupta family has deposited Rs 54,000 with the Municipal Corporation and has agreed to pay the entire cost of cleaning up the toxic remains that left the hill town with a major waste management crisis.
Ahead of the event, the High Court had ordered close monitoring of the high-profile wedding in the wake of ecological concerns, mainly due to the close proximity of Auli to alpine meadows. Under the strict orders of the Uttarakhand High Court, a group of thirteen officials were monitoring the functions and also videographed events. The Court even ordered the suspension of helicopter services in the town and shifted the helipad to the nearby town of Joshimath.
Even as the High Court sternly looked into the ecological concerns, the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat saw the wedding as an opportunity to attract investment in the state. “This should be seen as an exercise to promote Uttarakhand as a wedding destination,” Rawat said.
The grand wedding celebrations of Ajay Gupta’s son, Suryakant, and his brother Atul Gupta’s son’s kept the town busy from 18 – 22 June. For the four-day extravaganza, which witnessed the attendance of Bollywood celebrities including Katrina Kaif, yoga guru Baba Ramdev and various Chief Ministers, all hotels in the town were booked. A huge stage was constructed for performances and flowers were imported from Switzerland.
Health Issues India had recently reported how this wedding will only worsen the pollution levels in the Himalayan region, which is battling the ill-effects of human footprints and tourism in the region. Sadly the authorities acted only after public interest litigations were filed in the court. There were no guidelines issued by the Uttarakhand government against such blatant abuse of power that endangered the ecologically sensitive terrain. The damage has been done – necessitating a cleanup operation which will cost time and money.