Nepal, in lieu with its commitment of moving in the direction of clean and sustainable order aligning itself with the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement in all possible ways, has been taking effective steps to safeguard the beauty and importance of the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest that has attracted several international tourists to the region. The country has taken several consolidated steps to safeguard its environmental and cultural heritage.
With the boom in tourism comes its own after-effects and with the rising number of climbers coming to Nepal to track and traverse the difficult journey to the mountain top of the tallest peak has more or less resulted in overcrowding the region not just with their presence, but also with garbage. The probability and amount of trash to be found amidst the scenic and picturesque landscape of Mount Everest in the past few years has only augmented, positing a serious threat not only to Nepal, but to the world at large.
Taking responsibility of the ill-impacts of heightened tourism in the region in general and Mount Everest in particular, the Nepal government with sheer dedication has been cleaning the mountains to reduce the negative impacts of the deposited trash on the health of the mountains specifically impacting the environment at large. The Clean-up Everest Mission of the government of Nepal, despite facing several short comings, has stayed true to its commitment of environmental protection and safekeeping, as envisioned by the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Nepal Government officially controls the Mount Everest and its systematic and well-planned mission has removed nearly 11 tonnes of rubbish in current season within the time span of two months. The government campaign under the title ‘Everest Cleaning Campaign’ with estimated budget of about 23 million Nepalese rupees was flagged on 14th April 2019 with an aim to bring back substantial trash from the Mount Everest, which in recent years has been moving in the direction of being the “world’s highest dumping ground”.
The Member-States of the Non-Aligned Movement have always iterated its commitment to protect the environment and Nepal’s Clean Everest Mission adds wings to this very commitment. The campaign aimed at collecting 5,000-kg of garbage from Base Camp area, 2,000-kg of garbage from the South Col region and 3,000-kg from Camp II and Camp III area.
Nepal vehemently understood the importance of a clean-up mission as the feedbacks received from the climbers returning from the 8,850-metre-high mountain was moving it towards the direction of becoming an embarrassment and a great setback for its tourism industry. The slopes of the mountain are littered with both biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes including human excrement, kitchen waste, torn tents, ropes, used oxygen canisters, broken ladders, beer bottles, cans and plastic wrappers.
In the short time frame of two months, when the campaign concluded on 29 May, 2019, five tonnes of litter was collected from different camps sites above the base camp and six tonnes from the areas below by the team of 20 Sherpa climbers. The day of the conclusion of the mission is itself historic as the day marks the commemoration of the first summit of Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
No less than a total of about 3,000 kilograms of solid waste has been collected from the Mt. Everest. Out of the collected garbage about 1,000 kgs were flown to Kathmandu using Nepali Army helicopters and were handed over to recyclers for proper disposal. The rest 2,000 Kgs were sent to Okhaldhunga. Before the disposal mechanism the wastes were “showcased” in Namche town and re-exhibited in Kathmandu on 5th June, 2019 on the occasion of World Environment Day before getting recycled.
The move not just spread a message of commitment and dedication but also aided in inciting the feeling of responsibility towards the environment on the international front.
Nepal’s commitment towards the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement has been firm and even in the past, the government had taken several considerable steps to protect the natural beauty of the mountains. In 2014, the Nepalese Government imposed rules for the climbers to bring back along with them 8 kgs of garbage on a compulsory basis apart from their own trash.
The Clean Everest Mission of the Nepal government has earned the support of several governmental and non-governmental agencies. The short-term aim of the government is to bring back the estimated trash, but they are equally aware of the presence of more trash covered in snow and that would get exposed only with the rise in temperature. Staying true to its commitment of being a NAM Member-States, Nepal aims in the long-run to bring back everything in its innate state.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor