The Char Dham Yatra began on May 3 this year. Over eight lakh pilgrims have reportedly visited the shrines to date, and many more are still to arrive.

Badrinath Temple
Source: Travel Triangle

Authorities, on the other hand, are left astounded over the magnitude of pollution and the garbage strewn on the Char Dham routes. Prof MC Nautiyal, director of High Altitude Plant Physiology Research Centre, was quoted saying: "The tourist inflow has risen manifold due to which plastic garbage has increased as we donโ€™t have proper sanitation facilities. This has affected the natural vegetation. Medicinal plants are getting extinct as well."

Garbage on Char Dham route
Source: Twitter

This comes after the Uttarakhand government imposed a complete ban on single-use plastic bags, plastic cutlery, and thermocol.
What worries environmentalists and authorities more is that unmanaged pollution can pave the way for natural disasters such as landslides. Professor MS Negi, head of the geography department at Garhwal Central University, said "The way plastic garbage has piled up in a sensitive place like Kedarnath is hazardous for our ecology. It'll lead to erosion which can cause landslides. We must keep in mind tragedy of 2013."

Tourist brought waste is a problem in Uttarakhand
Source: Twitter

Visuals on social media show the hilly terrain dotted with discarded plastic items. Local authorities have started forming quick response teams so that none of the waste enters the rivers - Bhagirathi, Yamuna, Alaknanda, and Mandakini.

Authorities expect a steep rise in footfall in the coming days due to the summer holiday season. The Char Dham Yatra will continue till November.