Adventure enthusiasts are sure to be saddened by the National Green TRibunal’s(NGT) latest verdict which has banned rafting camps on the banks of Ganga along the stretch between Shivpuri and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, at least temporarily.
Justice UD Salvi headed the bench that has slammed thye Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Uttarakhand government for their laggard behavior and asked them to submit their response by August 7th.
The NGT has directed MoEF to reach to a conclusion about the nature of activities undertaken by the rafting camps. Permission for new rafting camps and renewal of old ones will not be alloowed till the next hearing.
Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE) had filed the case against the unregulated operation of rafting camps in Rishikesh that caused a loss to the environment. According to the NGO, the pollution created by these camps led to violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and also the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
“At the camp sites, the camp owners permit employees and the visitors to have food and alcohol. They leave empty bottles, cans, unconsumed food and waste including bones and filth in and around the camp site,” the plea had stated.
The Indian Association of Rafting Outfitters said during the hearing that rafting is not an activity that causes harm to the forests and they sought modification of the orders passed so that operation of the rafting camps could be allowed since the season would commence on September.