Till about a decade ago, Lambasingi, or Lammasingi as it is locally called, was a little-known sparsely populated village high up in the hill range of the Chintapalli Mandal in Visakhapatnam. That was till snowfall was recorded there in 2012. This is when it started gaining the attention of local, and statewide, tourists. People throughout Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states started flocking this quiet village.
Presently, tourism at Lambasingi is a two-sided coin. As much as the revenue it generates, that much of an adverse effect it has on the ecology and once-pristine hillside. The question is whether tourism is a boon or bane for locales like Lambasingi.
The single-digit temperatures allowed for many non-local fruits and vegetables to grow on the hills at this popular place in Visakhapatnam. For instance, the recently introduced strawberry farms. Consequently, every weekend the locals watch in amusement as cars, bikes and buses offload hundreds of denizens searching for bathrooms and the strawberry fields. And they responded accordingly; where once nothing was available, there are now tea stalls, breakfast nooks and even local houses offered up for a night stay. Makeshift stalls selling locally grown produce, shops selling bottled water, food trucks and road-side tea kiosks are now a regular feature every weekend. Thus, the local economy boomed. For instance, the predominantly thatched roofs have now given way to proper cement houses. The daily life has seen a definite improvement, revenue has increased and enterprising villagers have prospered.
With no proper resort or hotel on the hilltop, tourists are often advised to carry all that they would need. Which translates to bottles of water, packets of biscuits and chips, packed picnic lunches and of course, alcoholic beverage bottles. But the irresponsibility with which these in-search-of-nature-tourists throw the wrappers, bottles and disposables, is pathetic. Added to that, beer drinking bikers and impatiently honking drivers spoil the tranquil atmosphere. Plastic, waste and noise have thus emerged as the major pollutants here.
Discarded water-bottles, liquor bottles, plastic wrappers, paper cups, and aluminium foil litter the area. Every street, water body and empty plot in Lambasingi are scattered with these carelessly thrown non-eco-friendly packing materials. The sweet juicy strawberries are diligently packed in cute plastic boxes to be carried back by enthusiastic shoppers. But many an empty plastic box is found discarded just off the fields. And added to the garbage that tourists leave behind, the weekly village markets also generate a lot of plastic waste. The lack of public toilets is another pitiable reality, and though villagers are helpful, building this basic infrastructure is much required to help the tourists flocking this place in Visakhapatnam district.
The need of the hour
Lambasingi is fast deteriorating into a commercial and littered tourist spot. Currently, there are no measures put in place to handle the escalating waste generated by the influx of tourists, especially plastic and non-biodegradable litter. Sensitisation of the public to keep the hilly place clean is very important. Adequate dustbins should be placed and cleared on a regular basis. Display boards and signages along the ghat road, and at every junction, should also caution the public against littering. The locals should be educated, and encouraged, to insist that garbage is deposited in bins only and not on the wayside. Hefty penalties should be imposed on those who litter the places.
For all these, an enforcement mechanism has to be in place. Action has to be taken before the problem further escalates. Visitors need to be sensitised and the notion of taking every piece of paper and plastic back to Visakhapatnam or other places for proper disposal should be inculcated. Mother Nature has generously shared some of her beauty with us. Let us not spoil it. Let us make proper use of it so that the locals will gain from it in a productive and healthy manner.