NGT refuses to allow rafting activities in Rishikesh
Rishikesh (PTI):In disappointing news for all the rafting tour operators in Rishikesh, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has refused permission to rafting camps operating from the banks of the Ganga from Shivpuri to Rishikesh.
A Bench headed by Justice UD Salvi slammed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the the state government for not filing their replies in the case and directed them to file their response by August 7.
Taking note of the state government’s March 31 statement that no new licences for camps would be issued, it also made it clear that permission for new rafting camps and even renewal would not be allowed for the time being till the next hearing.
It also directed the ministry to take a clear stand on the nature of activities undertaken by the rafting camps. During the hearing, the Indian Association of Rafting Outfitters said rafting activity could not be treated as a non-forest activity as per the Forest (Conservation) Act. The rafting association sought a modification of the March 31 order, allowing the operation of rafting camps on the Ganga on the ground that the rafting season would commence shortly in September.
The green panel was hearing the plea of an NGO, Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), against “unregulated” operation of rafting camps in Rishikesh.
The NGO had said rafting camps were not only in the violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, but also the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, as well as the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, as they were leading to pollution of the Ganga by discharging effluent, throwing of solid waste directly and adversely affecting the ecological integrity of the river system.