In his last ‘Mann Ki Baat’ broadcast of the year, PM Modi while talking about new resolves for the new year said, “You must have also felt in your life that when you do something for society then the society itself gives us the energy to do much more. Normal sources of inspiration can accomplish great tasks. One such young man is Pradeep Sangwan.”
Who is Pradeep Sangwan?
Sangwan is running a campaign called ‘Healing Himalayas’ since 2016, as part of which he along with his team goes to different areas of the Himalayas and clears the garbage left behind by tourists. Giving back in a way which the society the earth the world remembers but not in the pomp and show of accolades unfortunately no. The soldiers are it on the front or of the earth are hardly ever known by name and as yet they have the most dedication to protect what belongs to the world at large— the unsung hero, the unrecognised trooper, the man behind the scenes, the person not looking for accolades but only action and positive impactable actions.
Natmastak at the dedication, the tough task at hand and the discipline and focus required to go against the tide of popularism. Healing Himalayas was born out of love for the natural— when people started joking that a regular trek route can be traced by the amount of garbage in the trail; it hit hard for the Gurgaon based Pardeep who till then was a hobbyist at trekking. Looking after nature, the eco system and the community doesn’t require a “main pahadi hoon”, “main yahan ka hoon” “main wahan ka hoon” tag. As Pradeep by example has shown it just requires the willingness to recognise the problem and be the solution. Not waiting for someone else to be the solution or for someone else to sort the mess Pradeep took a task a very tough task in hand.
And just before you start analysing also give deep thought to the fact that cleaning is not an easy task since it’s not just about cleaning it’s about inculcating new habits it’s about safe and eco friendly and most of all affordable disposal it’s about raising awareness on why we need to do it. Each and every sphere is much harder than a Himalayan trek. People come to the mountains to de-stress days Pradeep but they bring their city lives and habits along with expecting the meagre local resources and reach to match up to the living standards and leaving behind a trail of waste that doesn’t belong in the ecological set-up and the little resources of pahadi system are unequipped to tackle.
The roads are not motor-able at all. The unique treks have a large leftover of single-use plastic and trek waste and clearing truckloads also requires trucks which were not easy so the solution generator that Pardeep is; worked around the problem by educating local villagers at the grassroots level to tackle waste by making it profitable also for them so that it is a long term solution and also affordable for everyone around to tackle waste at the local level thus cutting costs.
Sounds only like an uphill task so you can well imagine the struggle and the time Pradeep and his team must have invested in all their efforts and without any returns or expectations of accolades just for the sake of humanity. Healing Himalayas has since then in so many hard-working years come a long way and now offers educative and cleaning treks for city dwellers.
Come trek with us they say, clean the waste and enjoy the bare minimum we require to exist. Pardeep and his team have been trying to create a ripple effect through eager youngsters and tourists looking for unique experiences to motivate similar actions in each their own area as well because cleaning waste and managing it is needed in every corner.
Also, bit by bit the scene they hope shall change. And people shall become aware. In fact, the Healing Himalayas provides certification as well for young interns looking for a cause and what better cause than an adventure to heal Mother Nature. Pardeep and his team have been working tirelessly to heal and to give solutions like a material recovery facility at Chitkul where waste from offbeat areas can be segregated recycled and made part of a circular economy rather than bearing heavy costs of transportation making viable a local solution as well.
In fact, panchayats of various small Himachal villages like Raksham have been roped in for land and local support and also to set up waste compression machinery to further cut costs. Small scale incinerators for sanitary waste which is the second-largest pollutant after plastics have been set up. The education the hand-holding and first of all the convincing required for all of these are all kudos to the team healing the Himalayas. Explaining further Pardeep says that covid was majorly due to human anthropological activities yet the revenge tourism post the lockdown has sent people to rare and sensitive ecological places of Lahaul Spiti and Parvati valley this further creating an imbalance in an already precarious situation of climate change.
The shepherd communities of the Himalayas known for their zero-carbon footprint lifestyle are an example he says for us to emulate. Waste needs to be addressed at the entry level of every trek and he has been working tirelessly to convince the government at local levels to do the same and to imply certain fee structures to limit access to such places. Further every village every district needs to address its waste first at the local level make a livelihood or reusables and then think further. The road to changing the thought, habits and material waste control is very long, unforgiving and full of challenges at multiple levels but a road nevertheless Pradeep Sangwan and his team have chosen.
The least we can do is to do something similar at our homes and when you need a break take a one with the healing Himalayas team and learn an alternate route to sustainable living—it’s as free as the Himalayan fresh air.
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