SIKKIM TOURISM: Prayer shield for Chhangu pollution – skillfully using the religious key towards conservation for tourists from the plains not that aware of the sanctity of bad habits and unsocial behavior ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, Nov. 11: Twenty prayer wheels atop a footbridge along the Chhangu Lake were consecrated by Buddhist monks today as part of the Sikkim government’s efforts to save the holy water-body from being polluted.
The lake is a popular tourist destination in Sikkim with 300 to 400 vehicles ferrying visitors to the spot daily during the peak season (from April to May). Even during the lean season in monsoon, and in winter, nearly 50 tourist-vehicles travel to the water-body.
Located close to the India-China border at Nathu-la, the lake, 35km from Gangtok, is situated at 12,300ft in East Sikkim.
According to officials of the state forest department, the custodian of the lake, the water-body is often defiled by tourists, taxi drivers and defence personnel who allegedly throw garbage, spit or urinate along its upper reaches. “We have already taken several measures along with the local community to stop the littering of the lake. With these prayer wheels, we hope to pass a message to all that this lake is sacred and should not be defiled. People may stop polluting the lake when they see the prayer wheels and understand its sanctity,” said K.B. Gurung, the divisional forest officer of East district.
The placing of Maneys (prayer wheels) on the footbridge near one end of the 900m-long lake has given a religious testimonial to the lake, which earlier did not have any appendages portraying its sacredness. Unlike Chhangu, the Khecheopalri Lake in West Sikkim, which is also considered holy, is surrounded by poles hoisting colourful prayer flags.
The prayer wheels were inaugurated by state forest director C.S. Pradhan.
The president of the Tsomgo Pokehari Sangraksan Samiti, which looks after garbage collection and maintenance and charges Rs 10 per tourist visiting the lake, Chewang Norbu Bhutia, also said the prayer wheels would help prevent the pollution of the lake.
“The Maneys will tell the tourists that this lake is a sacred spot and people will automatically stop polluting the place. We will also sensitise the tourists about the sacredness of the lake,” said Bhutia.