More tourists bring in more trash on Vanjangi Hill


Plastic water bottles and other trash strewn around by visitors being cleared as part of a cleanliness drive at Vanjangi Hill, Paderu, in Alluri Sitarama Raju district.

Plastic water bottles and other trash strewn around by visitors being cleared as part of a cleanliness drive at Vanjangi Hill, Paderu, in Alluri Sitarama Raju district.
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Heaps of plastic waste and other garbage has been collected from the hill top and the surroundings of ‘Vanjangi Hill’ in the last three days, as part of an ongoing cleanliness drive, in Paderu of Alluri Sitarama Raju district.

After closing the tourist hotspot, for about a week (January 2 to 9), for maintenance works ahead of an anticipated rise in tourist arrivals during the Sankranti festive season, the district administration has launched a cleanliness drive. Over 10 trucks of waste has been gathered so far, as per the authorities, which mostly consisted of plastic bottles.

Hundreds of plastic bottles, food covers, cigarette covers, and paper plates were among the waste cleared from the hill top. At the foothill, where camps were set up for tourists to stay, the trash also included a large number of liquor bottles.

Teams deployed

According to the Mandal Parishad Development Officer, Paderu, K.S. Naveen 30 workers divided into five teams, each headed by a panchayat secretary, have been deployed for the cleanliness activity at various places from the foothill to the hill top. The drive will be completed in a couple of days and the tourist spot will be reopened to public from January 10.

Vanjangi, popularly known as ‘Meghala Konda’, started gaining tourist attention since 2019, and soon became a major tourist hotspot for its sunrise view. This year, tourist flow touched around 2,500 during weekends. However, this also led to a rise in pollution, especially littering of plastic waste by visitors. Alarmed by the rising trend, some concerned tourists as well as locals from Vanjangi panchayat call for government intervention to preserve the pristine surroundings and greater awareness among tourists on responsible behaviour so as not to harm the nature.

Visitors enjoying the view of the sun rising above a thick blanket of clouds from the hill top at Vanjangi Hills.

Visitors enjoying the view of the sun rising above a thick blanket of clouds from the hill top at Vanjangi Hills.
| Photo Credit:
SPECIAL ARRANGMENT

Timings

According to a few local tribespeople, earlier, due to lack of monitoring, visitors used to reach the hill top during nights for camping and partying littering the area with liquor bottles. After the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) took the area under its control and imposed entry timings from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m., partying on the hill stopped. This also led to an increase in the number of tourists, especially trekking lovers, including women. However, open dumping continues to be a major problem. While tourists blame it on lack of adequate dustbins, tribespeople from Vanjangi panchayat call it irresponsible behaviour by some travellers.

“We cannot ask people not to carry plastic water bottles while trekking the hill, until we provide an alternative. Since it is a reserve forest area, no constructions should be made. There is also no scope for drilling nor any water source available on the hill. The ITDA is mulling to arrange metal boards with radium stickers informing about the directions as well as urging tourists not to dump waste,” says ITDA Project Officer V. Abhishek.

At present, a few temporary kiosks have been set up by local vendors, where they sell water bottles. The authorities are thinking of asking the vendors to set up their stalls at one place and maintain proper waste management techniques, instead of being scattered on the hill. At every 100 metres, volunteers are going to be posted appealing to tourists not to dump waste and pick up trash, if littered.



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