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Package pilgrims ‘destroying the Himalayas’

Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka), 15 July 2007

(Reuters) HUNDREDS of thousands of pilgrims flocking to holy sites in the Himalayas are fouling fragile mountain ecosystems with rubbish, human waste, air pollution and the deforestation that comes with development.

Hindus believe the Himalayas are the abode of Lord Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration, and devotees trek through treacherous mountain passes every year to seek Shiva’s blessings at various holy shrines.

But a rise in pilgrimages to these once pristine areas have made the region a dumping ground for hundreds of tonnes of garbage and human waste which is contaminating nearby rivers, environmentalists say. [more]