- Sujal Pradhan, NET Correspondent, Sikkim
The Khangchendzonga Conservation Committee (KCC) delivered life-saving oxygen cylinder and LPG heater to high-altitude personnel deployed along the Yuksam-Dzongri walking trail under Khangchendzonga National Park.
These equipment were distributed during a recent workshop, hosted on raising awareness of a single health approach to manage Zoonotic infections.
KCC Yuksam has provided a total of 7 sets of LPG set connections for Cooking purposes and 7 sets of LPG Heater to the caretakers of the huts and 4 oxygen cylinders at various places in Bakhim, Tshoka, Dzongri, Thangsing and HMI.
“The purpose of providing the oxygen cylinder and LPG heater was to avert situations, which might lead to casualties due to lack emergency oxygen crisis. However, the utilization of emergency helicopter service might not be suitable, as the authorities need to obtain special permission.” – informed the President of KCC – Tshering Uden Bhutia.
She also mentioned that the temperature drops dramatically during the winter, and that in 1998, the group was able to prohibit trekkers from using firewood along the Yuksam Dzongri trail.
“The protectors of the trail, the keepers of the trekker’s hut along Yuksam-Dzongri, however, were unable to comply with the restriction because they had no alternative source of heat or food throughout the year. As the number of tourists grows, so does the demand on the land, and a great number of Rhododendron trees are felled-down to offer services at the Trekkers hut.” – she further added.
“Khangchendzonga National Park was designated as a world-recognized heritage site under the Mixed Category by UNESCO in July 2016. The national park was formed in 1977 and dubbed as the guardian deity – Mt. Khangchendzonga or Mt. Kanchenjunga, and it spans 1784 square kilometres, with elevations ranging from 1,829 metres (6,001 feet) to over 8,550 metres. The national park has a diverse landscape, flora and fauna. It is noted for its world-famous Yuksam-Dzongri trip, in addition to its diverse scenery, vegetation, and fauna,” – Bhutia remarked.
The trekking trail which is above 3000 meters is filled with various types of Rhododendrons, a dominant species in that elevation. These Rhododendrons are vital for maintaining the ecology, for bird breeding, and for the preservation of medicinal plants, among other things. It has been functioning as fuelwood at the trekker’s cabin along the trail, producing a disturbance in the park’s ecosystem.
The number of trekkers that travel the trail each year grows, resulting in the destruction of the Rhododendrons that offer warmth and nourishment to trail hikers. Conservation was the common purpose of a group of like-minded persons who created an organization in Yuksam in 1996.
Meanwhile, the primary focus of KCC dealt with protecting and conserving the village which has been blessed with i.e. Khangchendzonga National Park.
A Zero Waste mechanism has been developed by KCC and is in practice inside the national park making it the only ZERO WASTE TREKKING TRAIL in Sikkim.
The tourism stakeholders of Khangchendzonga National Park have been trained by the organization in adopting the Zero Waste practice, while trekking. The training includes segregation of waste, product making from the waste generated from inside KNP etc.
Besides, such mechanism has been implemented in maintaining the data of waste collected from inside the park. In the year 2005, KCC started functioning as a Visitors Information Centre (VIC) informing the trekkers about national parks, rules and regulations that are to be followed inside the park, the religious beliefs and local bylaws that one has to follow inside the park.