Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee
With the successful ascent of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenjing Norgay Sherpa of Mt. Everest in 1953, the mountaineering and tourism activities continued to increase in the Khumbu region. In absence of concrete rules and regulations as to the disposal of garbage of the expedition teams, amount of waste also increased in the Everest camp. But the condition of other camps above the base camp was the same. In the late 1980’s the national and international media highlighted the garbage condition of Everest base camp, which brought a negative light onto the camp. At that time, even the whole Khumbu was presented in the same way in international arena because of the waste dispersed along the trekking routes. It was in fact a challenge for both the people of Khumbu and the government of Nepal. The local community organized an extensive cleanup campaign in the Everest region with the funds from the then Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA). It was essential to establish an organization for the regular cleanup of this region. In 1991 the local people of Khumbu established Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) with the support of WWF Nepal Program. It is a non-governmental and non-profit making organization legally registered with the then His Majesty’s Government of Nepal under the District Administration office in Solukhumbu (Registration no- 20). SPCC is also registered with the Social Welfare Council (Registration no-10989).
- Expedition Permission Letter registration system
The leaders of the expedition teams are required to register their expedition permission letter in the SPCC office before going to the base camps. They need to submit the list of equipment and food along with a copy of their permit. The garbage produced by the teams during their expedition period must be brought to the PCC office. The office then provides the garbage clearance letter, in which all details of the team’s garbage are listed, to the teams.
- Garbage disposal of the expedition teams
The expedition teams must bring their garbage to the SPCC office. The office disposes of paper/plastic and other burnable garbage in Namche and non-burnable arbage like cans, bottles, empty EPI gas containers and used batteries are sent to Kathmandu with the expedition teams.
- Monthly cleanup Program
Monthly cleanup program is carried out in different residential areas. The garbage management groups play an important role in such programs. The leanup program is mainly focused in residential areas and markets. The governmental and non governmental organizations also take part in the programs.
- Major trekking routes and cleanup campaign
There is a single trekking route from Lukla to Namche Bazaar. From Namche Bazaar three trekking routes lead to Everest base camp. The main route goes to Everest base camp via Tengboche, Pangboche, Pheriche, Lobuche and Gorakshep. The second one goes to Everest base camp passing through Dole, Machhermo, Gokyo, Thangnak, Chola Pass, Jongla and Lobuche. Lobuche is the meeting point of these two routes. The latter goes to Everest base camp through Thame valley, Lungde, Renjo La Pass, Gokyo and at Gokyo it the route coming from Dole. Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) annually organizes an extensive cleanup campaign focusing above mentioned trekking routes. The weeklong campaign starts in May and includes local people, schools, governmental and non-governmental organizations. The main objective of this campaign is to create awareness among the people and clean the areas. The following tables program of cleanup campaign organized during the last fiscal years.
- The Khumbu Icefall Project
The route from Everest base camp to camp 2- over deep and dangerous crevasses suing ropes and aluminum ladders- is called the Khumbu Icefall project. The kind of bridge over the crevasses using ropes and ladders is called the Icefall route. Highly skilled, courageous and expedition-experienced Sherpas are used to make this route and they are called Icefall doctors. This route is used to climb Mt. Everest, Lhotse Nuptse. The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) has handed over the Khumbu icefall project to the SPCC for five years, starting 2009. The icefall route construction in itself plus the equipment is very expensive. The ladders are imported form the United Kingdom. The fee from the expedition members to pass the icefall route is the main income of the SPCC. A considerable amount of money goes into route construction and only a limited amount of money is left to use in our programs and activities.
- Trekking permit registration
All trekking groups have an important role to control the pollution; it is their responsibility to keep the camp site clean. The camp site is a public place, which is frequented by many groups. Unfortunately some trekking groups leave their garbage, which does not only pollute the camp site but also pollutes the environment of that area. A meeting of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) Trekking Agent’s Association of Nepal (TAAN) and Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) has decided to apply the registration system to all trekking groups. The purpose of this decision is to make trekking groups more aware of and responsible for pollution control. According to the decision, the trekking groups, especially the ones using campsites, should register their TIMS (Trekking Information Management System) card in the SPCC office declaring their food. They are required to bring all their non-burnable garbage to the SPCC office. High Land Excursion trekking company brings back all non-burnable garbage produced during their trekking period. It is a great contribution of this company in the conservation of environment of the Khumbu. The following tables show the non-burnable garbage brought by the company during the three fiscal years.
- Plastic bag free zone declaration
Since plastic bags are cheap and convenient, they are used widely in our daily life especially in shopping- even in remote villages and weekly markets. Plastic bags are one of the major causes of pollution. The pollution by plastic bags was increasing even in the Khumbu region. In order of address this problem, SPCC and Sherwi Yondhen Tshokpa (SYT- A Network of Khumbu Sherpa students) took an initiative to ban the use of plastic bags in the Khumbu region. A meeting of local people, local shopkeepers, Governmental and non governmental organizations declared the Khumbu a plastic free zone in 2011. In the beginning, we (SPCC and SYT) brought Jute bags from Kathmandu for the substitution of plastic bags. The bags were distributed to all shopkeepers. After encouraging shopkeepers to bring jute bags themselves, this idea has taken over and plastic bags are rarely used in Upper Khumbu. However more effort is needed in Lower Khumbu.
- Distribution of cloth bags
A Gompa is a common religious place, where people perform their religious activities and rituals. A large number of plastic bags are used in these activities, which from an environment point of view needs to be addressed. Some of the Gompas have already replaced plastic with cloth for their activities. It was decided to provide cloth bags to the rest of the Gompas and SPCC brought 4300 cloth bags- spending 147,000/- Rs.- from Kathmandu. The bags were distributed amongst the Gompas of different villages through their management committee. The cloth bags were distributed to the Gompas of the following villages. a. Panboche, Namche VDC-800 pieces. b. Thamo, Namche VDC-1000 pieces. c. Gumela, Chaurikharka- 2500 pieces.
- Garbage management group Sagarmaatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) has created a garbage management group in each village. The garbage management groups have been made fully responsible for keeping their village clean. SPCC supports them with basic tools for garbage collection and disposal. The programs on pollution control are carried out jointly in their respective villages and areas. The Ssagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) helps in digging rubbish pits and making garbage-burning places. The groups conduct cleanup programs in villages and hires rubbish collectors in the peak trekking season for the regular collection and disposal of garbage. The SPCC has formed the following garbage management groups.
1. Khumjung Village Development Committee a. Gokyo Lake Management Group- Gokyo b. Lobuche Garbage Management Group- Lobuche c. Gorakshep Area Development Committee- Gorakshep d. Tawache Garbage Management Group- Pangboche- Somare e. Dole Pragati Samuha- Dole 2. Namche Village Development Comnittee a. Thamochhyo Garbage Management Group- Thame b. Thamo Garbage Management Group- Thamo c. Chaur kyamp Garbage Management Grouop- Namche
3. Chaurikharka Village Development Committee a. Monjo Garbage Management Group
Shraddha is a natural explorer and loves writing on various topics as you can read in her blog