Swachch Siachen Abhiyaan

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Context: The Indian Army has collected 130 tons of waste from the Siachen Glacier, as part of a clean-up project called ‘Swachh Siachen Abhiyan’.

Prelims: Environment & Ecology.
Mains: GS III- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Swachh Siachen Abhiyaan: 

  • The Swachh Siachen Abhiyan was launched in January 2018, with the aim of keeping the Glacier clean, reducing garbage, and effectively preserving the region’s ecology.
  • Since the inception of this cleaning drive, 130 tons of waste have been removed from the world’s highest battlefield. The total waste consists of 48.4 tons of biodegradable rubbish, 40.32 tons of non-biodegradable and non-metallic waste, and 42.45 ton-worth non-biodegradable and metallic waste.
  • According to the concept note prepared by the Army in February 2018, approximately 236 tonnes of waste is generated on the Glacier every year, primarily due to military activities. Going by this statistic, the total waste generated since the Army’s deployment in Siachen in 1984 would amount to 8,000 tons.
  • Generating waste on the Glacier is unavoidable, as items essential for combat operations and the troops’ survival in such extreme conditions are all potential sources of litter.
  • However, the Army has implemented certain action plans to aid waste management, such as educating troops on identifying and classifying waste, decreasing junk like food cartons, and creating effective waste disposal methods. The collected biodegradable waste is thereafter destroyed using bailing machines, whereas non-metallic waste is burned in incinerators, with the resultant ash used as manure in nearby villages.
  • With army posts located at heights between 18,000 to 21,000 feet, the altitude poses the biggest challenge in the collection of waste. Moreover, as sub-zero temperatures prevent natural degradation, all waste has to be brought down by soldiers on foot or via helicopters.
  • After successfully getting rid of 130 tons of waste generated since January 2018, the Army now intends to dispose of about 100 tons of waste every year.

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