The order comes in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by Rishikesh based social activist Hari Om Prakash and is likely to have major implications on the adventure tourism sector, for which the state is famous.
The Uttarakhand High Court, in an order dated June 18, that is bound to have a severe impact on the state’s tourism has banned white water rafting, Paragliding and other water sports. The order comes in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by Rishikesh based social activist Hari Om Prakash and is likely to have major implications on the adventure tourism sector, for which the state is famous.
The activist had alleged that private entrepreneurs did not adhere to norms and temporary structures were built on the banks of Ganga. The whole set led to rivers’ deteriorated condition as large amounts of sewage was made to release in the water bodies. The launching point of water rafting is also choked with traffic from cars which create added pollution. The order is an initiative to safeguard the environment as well as the tourists.
“This can only be permitted to be managed by the highly trained professionals. The river beds cannot be leased out for a song. There has to be the transparent procedure for inviting the applications after fixing the minimum rates for using the water. The state government cannot permit the use of rivers without fixing reasonable charges. The tourism must be promoted but it is required to be regulated. The sports for pleasure cannot be permitted to end in disaster”, the order said.
According to a report by TOI, white water rafting needs to be permitted by only highly trained professionals to avoid the unfortunate deaths during the adventure sport. “The state government is directed to prepare the transparent policy within a period of two weeks,” the High Court order said. “Till the policy is framed, no white river rafting, paragliding and other water sports shall be permitted in the state of Uttarakhand.”
In another statement, the division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh said that they were shocked to know that the state government is permitting camping sites on river beds. They said that it pollutes the environment and ecology of the river and the surrounding areas.
Uttrakhand, a popular destination for tourists around the country as well as world offers a variety of adventure sports. The famous white water rafting alone generates around Rs 75-80 crore on yearly basis and employs nearly 5,000 – 7,000 people.
According to the president of the Indian Association of Professional Rafting Outfitters (IAPRO), Kiran Todaria there are around 300 rafting operators who are spread across a stretch of 36 km. “It’s an industry that provides indirect jobs to no less than 10,000 families,” she was quoted as saying.