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Fine for plastic dump on Sikkim slopes

Gangtok, June 10: Tourists who leave behind empty food packets and plastic water bottles while visiting high-altitude areas of North Sikkim would be fined by the local governing body of Lachung village from now on.

Members of the Lachung Dzumsa have said a minimum of Rs 1,000 will be charged if a visitor is seen throwing waste in these tourist hotspots.

Dzumsa is an age-old system of governance practised in Lachen and Lachung villages and is protected under the Sikkim Panchayat Act 1995.

The governing body is headed by two pipons (headman) elected by the villagers for a period of one year.

“We have formed a committee to keep our tourism destinations clean. The committee will be divided into groups for Lachung, Yumthang Valley and Yume Samdong. They will be submitting monthly reports to us. Those tourists and drivers who discard wastes without keeping in mind the purity of tourism areas will be fined a minimum amount of Rs 1,000,” said Lachung pipon Tendup Lachungpa.

Starting from Chungthang, the Dzumsa jurisdiction extends up to Yumthang Valley (24km from Lachung) and Yume Samdong (50km from Lachung) in North Sikkim.

Around 250 tourist vehicles visit Lachung, 119km from Gangtok, every day during the peak season in summer.

Besides Lachung the other tourist hotspots in the area include the Yumthang Valley (11,800 feet) and Yume Samdong (15,300 feet).

Lachung is at 8,700 feet.

Most of the places are strewn with empty chips and noodle packets, juice tetra packs and mineral water bottles.

“We have ordered those running tea and snack stalls at Yumthang Valley and Yume Samdong to form committees and collect and dispose the garbage. Biodegradable garbage will be disposed by them and non-biodegradable items will be sent to Gangtok where we will be teaming up with the forest and urban development departments for their disposal,” said another pipon of Lachung, C. Namgyal Lachungpa.

The Lachung pipons have requested the taxi drivers visiting the areas from Gangtok to take non-biodegradable trash collected from Yumthang Valley and Yume Samdong and take them back to the state capital.

“The taxi drivers have been asked to brief their passengers so that they don’t litter around or leave empty chip and food packets and mineral water plastic bottles behind. Drivers have been told that they should not do drunken or rash driving or smoke cigarettes once they cross Chungthang and enter the Lachung Dzumsa territory. We want our tourists to feel safe once they enter Lachung,” said the adviser to Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim, Palzor Lachungpa.

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