Thursday, November 30, 2023

Uttarakhand High Court directs state government to file an affidavit explaining its inaction in preparing the Tourism Development Plan for Doon Valley

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The Uttarakhand High Court directed the State government to file an affidavit explaining its inaction in preparing the Tourism Development Plan (TDP) for Doon Valley.

The division bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against State inaction for preparing the TDP and Master Plan for the Doon Valley.

On the last occasion, when the matter was heard by the High Court , its attention has been drawn to the Notification dated 01.02.1989, issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, in relation to restrictions on location of industries, mining operations and other development activities in the Doon Valley, in the erstwhile State of Uttar Pradesh.

By the said Notification, the Central Government had imposed restrictions on the enumerated activities in Doon Valley. The enumerated activities were, firstly location, setting of industrial units; secondly Mining; thirdly tourism; fourthly grazing, and; lastly land use. It was left to the State Department of Tourism to prepare a Tourism Development Plan (TDP) with the approval of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest. As aforesaid, the purpose of preparation of TDP was to impose restrictions, inter alia, in relation to the activity of tourism in the Doon Valley.

It has been over 34 years since the issuance of the Notification dated 01.02.1989, but the tourism development plan has not been prepared by the State Tourism Department , the Bench observed.

On June 13, when the written instructions were tendered in Court by B.S. Parihar, Standing Counsel according to which, the State has no plan of developing a Tourism Development Plan. This situation is completely unacceptable by the Court , as the failure on the part of the State Department for Tourism in preparing the TDP defeats the statutory Notification, issued by the Central Government under Section 3(2)(v) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and Rule 5(3)(d) of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.

The Bench directed the Secretary, Tourism, Government of Uttarakhand, to remain present during the hearing of this petition, on the next date, either physically, or virtually.

“An affidavit shall also be filed by the State explaining its inaction in preparing the TDP in terms of the Notification dated 01.02.1989, the purpose whereof, as aforesaid, was to place restrictions on tourism activity in the Doon Valley”, the order reads.

Matter is listed on 25.07.2023 for further hearing.

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