PBS NOW visits Dr. Bisht

David’s Journal from India: Day 4

To Gangotri, A Hair-Raising Drive

The accommodations are getting steadily more environmentally sustainable as we move north. In the river side city of Uttarkashi, gone is the air conditioning or any chance of hot water. “Enjoy your carbon-neutral shower?” Conrad says with a smile the next morning. Before breakfast we drive over to meet Dr. Harshvanti Bisht, an economist whose avocation is doing something about one of the other assaults on our glacier, beyond global warming. She runs a program to replant trees along the glacier’s perimeter. (Many trees near the glacier had been chopped down for firewood and without trees there is soil erosion which is another insult to an already sick glacier). We wait a few minutes while Dr. Bisht finishes her day puja, prayers, a ritual that includes holding an urn of Ganges water over her head and pouring it into a potted plant. Her serious mountaineering backpack is ready on the back porch for her trip to the glacier late in the day. It’s a 90 mile torturous road and then, for Dr. Bisht, a hike starting from 10,000 feet to the tree sanctuary she has built alongside the Gangotri glacier. [more]