The principal bench of National Green Tribunal rapped the Uttarakhand government for failing to implement policy governing camping sites and rafting activity in Kaudiyala to Rishikesh area on the banks of river Ganga.
NGT chairperson Swantater Kumar also warned the state counsel of summoning the state chief secretary in case he fails to come up with a satisfactory reply on policies framed by the government regarding camping and rafting. The NGT was hearing a plea filed by NGO Social Action for Forest and Enviroment, which had demanded intervention by the tribunal, saying that rafting camps were in violation of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, also the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 as well as the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 as the discharged effluents were polluting Ganga. It further said that throwing of solid waste directly in the water was adversely affecting the ecological system of the river.
The bench asked the Uttarakhand government about the guidelines in has drawn to regulate camping and rafting in Rishikesh. “You are passing the buck to NGT for banning these activities in the state. What have you done to regularise it? People whose livelihood is dependent on camping and rafting are suffering because of the delay and seeming lackadaisical attitude of the government. It seems you are not concerned about earning revenue,” the bench said, coming down heavily on the state.
The green panel ordered the state counsel to bring the entire policy and rules on May 10, failing which it would summon the Chief Secretary.
The state counsel, meanwhile, sought more time to bring details on the policy.
On December 10, the NGT had imposed a blanket ban on camping in Ganga till a proper policy was executed. It, however, excluded rafting activities from the ban.