A division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Lokpal Singh in a recent order directed the state government to prepare a transparent policy within two weeks.
The Uttarakhand High Court has banned white water rafting and paragliding until the state government frames a policy on adventure sports, a move which those in the business say will hit them hard. Underlining the need to regulate adventure sports, a division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Lokpal Singh in a recent order directed the state government to prepare a transparent policy within two weeks. Till such a policy is framed, no paragliding, white water rafting and other water sports shall be permitted in Uttarakhand, the court said.
Former Rafting Association of Uttarakhand president Devendra Rawat said river rafting has generated jobs for about 40,000 people, almost ending migration from many areas along the Ganga in Garhwal region’s Tehri and Pauri districts. A ban on rafting will lead to more people migrating from the state, he said. There are 281 companies involved in the rafting trade, together owning 600 rafts and transacting business worth over Rs 20 crore every season, which lasts nine months from October to June, he said.
Though he denied knowledge of the high court order, Rawat said any ban would affect the 40,000 people associated with the trade. Asked about the alleged violation of guidelines by raft operators, he said they follow the Rafting Policy 2014. “If the policy is revised and implemented, which is something only the state government can do, that would again be followed by people associated with the trade,” he said.
However, others in the business felt a ban lasting a few weeks from now would not have much affected as the season is nearing its end on June 30. The court order came on a PIL alleging that illegal leases were being issued in favour of private parties to set up temporary structures on the Ganga riverbed. Private entrepreneurs were conducted river rafting from them without any legal sanction, it argued.