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Don’t blame only foreigners for littering: Indian Everester

Kolkata, May 27 (IANS) Only foreign mountaineers should not be blamed for littering the Himalayas as Indian enthusiasts are also damaging the environment, says Sonam Wangyal, who was member of the first Indian expedition to scale Mount Everest 50 years ago.

“Why blame the foreigners? Our own people are dirtying the mountains more. Wherever they go, they throw waste without caring about the environment,” Wangyal told IANS here.

The 73-year-old Ladakhi mountain man was member of the team that climbed the Everest in 1965. He was 23 at that time, the youngest in the expedition and the youngest to scale the summit.

Recalling the pristine range, the veteran mountaineer said the situation has worsened over the years.

“They carry out daily ablutions and answer to nature’s call in the running water. This is the water which is available to residents downstream. Imagine the situation,” Wangyal said.

In Ladakh, Wangyal said he has helped construct 16 toilets for tourists and mountaineers.

“But the shame is, people don’t want to learn to use them properly,” the Everester honoured with a Padma Shri lamented.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the historic feat of the first Indian Everest team, he and four other members were honoured with trophies and gifts at a ceremony organised by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and the Himalayan Club on Tuesday evening.

IMF president Colonel H.S. Chauhan also appealed to people to “clean Himalayas”.

“Make sure you don’t leave anything out there. Enjoy but don’t litter,” Chauhan said.

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