Effluent, garbage foul Doi Suthep
Untreated water and garbage from more than 300 shops and a large number of tourists at Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai province has been damaging the ecological system in surrounding forests and a nearby water source.
Kritsayam Kongsatree, chief of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, said he was concerned about the increasing amount of garbage produced by large number of tourists at Doi Suthep temple, which has become one of the must-visit sites for both local and foreign tourists in Chiang Mai.
He said the garbage problem in Doi Suthep would cease to exist if all stakeholders come together and clean up the place.
He said each week volunteers separate the waste for proper disposal but if the tourist numbers increase during special events, waste and garbage management does not function effectively, leaving over 30 tonnes of garbage to be segregated per day.
Mr Kritsayam was referring to the annual event in which pilgrims nationwide come to pay respect to relics of Lord Buddha at Doi Suthep temple, which is usually organised during Visakha Bucha day every year.
The event attracts between 50,000-70,000 people while volunteers along the 11-kilometre-route to the temple offer free food and drinks to the visitors, he said.
The park has discussed the problem with other related agencies and sought their cooperation in stopping the use of foam and plastics due to its degradable difficulty, he said.
A group of volunteers has helped collect trash along the road to make the environment around the mountain clean as quickly as possible, he said.
"Tourist vans are our main concern. They dump trash everywhere because they think that the park has hired a lot of workers to clean up the area. We need their cooperation to reduce the amount of waste," he said.
He said another challenge is the waste water that is being discharged by over 300 shops along the temple.
The effluent goes directly into Huai Rap Sadet waterfall without passing through treatment process causing contamination.
Mr Kritsayam said the 1st Regional Environment Office in Chiang Mai found low levels of oxygen in the water, which is dangerous to the environment and it warned people not to touch the polluted water.
However, the Waste Water Management Authority and Tambon Suthep Municipality are planning to set up a treatment plant by this fiscal year to deal with the problem, he said.