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By Stefan WannLyngdoh and Gardinia Nongbri | November 9, 2017

Tourism in Meghalaya has been witnessing expansion over the years. The increase in tourist brings resultant economic gains to the state’s exchequer. The aesthetic beauty and hilly landscape of the state attract tourists from all parts of the world. However, with the increase in tourist inflow, the amount of waste production has also shown a sharp increase. Waste generation has been a problem for centuries. Lack of treatment systems and waste management processes continue to act as hindrances in our attempts for successful alternatives to tackle daily waste generation. Furthermore, improper management of waste causes emission of green-house gases, toxic fumes and particulate matters as they accumulate in open dump sites. These wastes are also capable of leaching organic or chemical compounds to contaminate the ground where such waste lay accumulated. Solid wastes thrown on streets, highways and waterways can cause pollution when they are carried off by rain water run-offs or by flood water to the main streams or drainage contaminating larger water bodies.

The present study was conducted to measure the type and quantity of waste generated on a daily basis, in the two important tourist spots, namely, the Ward’s Lake and Lady Hydari Park, located in the heart of Shillong and to assess the efficacy of waste management practices being followed  therenotwithstanding the perception of tourists on waste generation and its management in these two places.

Data have been obtained by segregating the wasteand measurement of the same by using weight measurement scale (kg). Data were also generated through structured observation, interviews, questionnaires, field researchfrom managing staff and secondary data through literature, books and articles.

Lady Hydari Park (LHP)

Lady Hydari Park is named after the first lady of the area, the wife of the first Governor of Assam, Sir Akbar Hydari at a time when Shillong was under theadministrative control of the Assam Government during the British rule in India. It is one of the best maintained parks in the city presently under the control and jurisdiction of the Wildlife Division of the Department of Forest and Environment, Government of Meghalaya. The park also houses a museum which highlights the state’s rich bio-diversity especially the Himalayan black bear, kite, hornbill and mynah. The park also has anexquisite variety of orchids and flowering plants.

Ward’s Lake (WL)

Ward’s Lake is located in the heart of the city. This horse-shoe shaped lake is a popular spot to take a stroll or to admire the green lawns dotted with multi-colored flowers. It is named after Sir William Ward, the then Chief Commissioner of Assam, who initiated the plan for the construction of this lake. The lake was later constructed by Colonel Hopkins in the year 1894, This lake has natural beauty at its very best.  It is being maintained presently by the Social Forestry Division of the Department of Forest and Environment, Deaprtment of Fisheries and Deaprtment of Irrigation, Government of Meghalaya. It is also said that the area around this place was made by a Khasi prisoner, who requested to let him work to bring a change to his monotonous daily routine. Thus, his role in beautifying the place is something which is remembered even today.

Waste Generation:

The amount of waste generated in Lady Hydari Park and Ward’s Lake categorized on a weekly and daily basis is given in the Table 1 and 2 respectively.

Table 1: Waste Generation in Lady Hydari Park (LHP)

 Table 2: Waste Generation in Ward’s Lake (WL)

Waste Management Process

Lady Hydari Park (LHP)

The amountof waste produced in LHP is stored in dustbins before it is collected.  There are 34 dustbins placed in different locations of the park. The waste is collected at the end of each day before the park is closed.There are eight cleaners employed for the maintenance of cleanliness of the park. The vast area of LHP is divided into four zones, for the cleaners to be able to be more efficient in their work; the animal area, the children’s park, the museum and the administration office area. This way the park is well maintained and the cleaning work force is well organized. After the collection is done, the cleaners dump the waste in dumpsites located within the park and the waste is then burnt. There are four dumpsites, two near the entrance, one on the outer part of the animal park towards the exit, and one near the children’s park towards the toilet facility. The types of waste collected can be categorized into bio-degradable and non-biodegradablethough the waste produced in the park is not segregated into bio-degradable and non- biodegradable.The bio-degradable include paper, leaves, and food scraps. The non-biodegradable wastes include plastic, tin, metal, foil, and glass bottles etc.

According to the management staff of LHP, animal feed waste and stool generated from the animal park are buried in pits. It was found that 75% of the management staff interviewed were aware ofsegregating waste into bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste. However, 25% were not aware of segregation of waste.

Steps by the management to reduce waste generation have beenin the form of not allowing the use of Plastic packets thereby compelling shopkeepers who sell plastic packed food to provide food in paper bags enabling the tourists to  take food and snacks inside the tourist premises.  This decision to reduce the amount of waste generation by this method inside the Park was brought in to effect on 5th of June 2014 coinciding with the World Environment Day.

 Ward’s Lake (WL)

Solid waste generated in the lake is stored in dustbins. There are about 60-65 dustbins set up in the tourist spot to store the waste. The local basket called khohis used as dustbins. This khoh can store upto approximately 10 kg 200 gm of waste. The waste is collected from dustbins, administration office, ticket counters and the boathouse twice a day, i.e.  in the morning and evening.

The type of waste that is generated can be categorized into bio-degradable and non-biodegradable. The biodegradable waste generated includes paper, food scraps, and leaves. The non-biodegradable waste generated includes plastic, tin can, foil, glass bottles and other wastes like rubber, metal etc. After the collection, the waste is then dumped into one dumpsite and then burnt.

For the maintenance of cleanliness of the lake, the authorities have employed 20 gardeners and 6 care takers to clean the lake and its surroundings. The lake is closed on every Tuesdayfor maintenance.

It was found during the survey that 83%of the staff sampled were not aware of segregation of wastes into bio-degradable and non-biodegradable and only 16.6% were aware of waste management and segregation.

Steps by the staff and management have been initiatedto reduce waste generation. The shopkeepers in the vicinity of Ward’s Lake (WL) have been instructedthat no plastic waste would be allowed inside WL. Hence shopkeepers who sell plastic packed food have to provide paper bag to pack the food enabling the tourists to take food and snacks inside the Lake.

Perception of Tourists:

Lady Hydari Park and Ward’s Lake

Out of the 100 tourists that were interviewed in the two tourist spots (50 from each), 55% of them were local tourists and 45% were tourists from different parts of the country like Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Varanasi, Chennai, Arunachal Pradesh, Dibrugarh and other parts of Assam, Delhi, Kerala, Manipur, Mizoram etc. In terms of their perception of the tourist spots regarding waste management, 58% had no complains about the waste management process, 23% of the tourists had complained about the cleanliness of the water bodies and the unpleasant odor, 5% complained about the cleanliness of the tourists spots in general,e.g the toilets, the animal cages and  the surroundings. 7% wanted more dustbins to be available and an awareness campaign on proper waste management by the concerned authorities, 3% wanted better waste management system, while 2% wanted renovation of the tourist spots.  2% of the respondents wanted the shops around tourists spot’s to stop selling food in plastics.

From the above data, it is evident that waste generated in Ward’s lake is much higher than Lady Hydari Park. From both these tourist spots, 166.933kgof waste is produced per week whileapproximately 667.732kg and 8.013 tonnesare produced monthly and yearly respectively. With continuous generation of waste and no proper treatment of waste (biodegradable and non-biodegradable) in place, there ought to be an effective waste management process in place. Theconcerned authorities need to put proper treatment process for management of the same. This does not require heavy machinery or large scale economic investment but adoption of simple  methodslike vermi-composting, recycling, re-using and reducing  the municipal solid waste in to manures or useful products which can bring about additional income, generationemployment and ensure a cleaner environment.By such cost effective methods, both the Ward’s Lake and Lady Hydari Park can be assured of its status as twopre-eminent tourist spots of Shillong. Nowadays, there is a greater amount of thrust on developing various areas including forests as eco-tourism sites with the objective of generating livelihood for the community especially in the rural areas.The study provides baseline information on the magnitude of waste generation in tourist spots and its potential to become an unmanageable menace if proper waste management system is not put in place at an appropriate time.

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The present study was conducted by Mr. Stefan WannLyngdoh as part of his Master degree dissertation work under the supervision of Ms. GardiniaNongbri, a faculty of the department of Environment &Traditional Ecosystems, Martin Luther Christian University, Shillong.

The author can be reached at stefanwann@gmail.com

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