The Uttarakhand high court has declared paragliding, white water rafting, and other water sports illegal until the state government implements a policy to control them, to protect the environment and the individuals who participate in these activities.
The court’s judgment shocked the Himalayan state’s adventure tourism and water sports industries.
In response to public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Rishikesh-based social activist Hari Om Kashyap, a division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh ordered the ban.
The HC ordered the state government to enact appropriate legislation to regulate adventure and water sports throughout Uttarakhand. The HC issued the order on Monday, but it wasn’t until Thursday that a copy was made available.
“Within two weeks, the State administration is required to establish a transparent policy.” “No white river rafting, paragliding, or other water sports shall be authorized in the state of Uttarakhand until the policy is formulated,” the order stated.
In the last decade, adventure sports companies have sprung up in the state, which is a major tourist destination, providing everything from white water rafting to paragliding to ziplining with no governmental control. The annual revenue from white water rafting in Uttarakhand is estimated to be around. Guides, cooks, instructors, and drivers are among the 5,000–7,000 employees.
At least 300 rafting operators operate over a 36-kilometer stretch of the Ganga, according to Kiran Todaria, head of the Indian Association of Professional Rafting Outfitters (PRO). “It’s an industry that employs no less than 10,000 people indirectly,” she remarked.
In his case, the petitioner claimed that state officials were illegally granting leases to private companies to organize water sports on the Ganga. Temporary structures are allowed to be built on the river’s banks, according to the petitioner.
“We’ve also looked over the photos.” Picnics are being organized inside the river water, as we can see. They’ve been spotted drinking from the river. According to the order, the respondent-state “does not safeguard the sacredness of the river Ganga by allowing the lease of river beds,” according to the order.
Raw sewage was allowed to run directly into the river, according to the HC. According to the report, the state government has yet to enact legislation to regulate white river rafting, paragliding, or water sports.
“The state government cannot be unconcerned about its responsibilities to regulate and limit unlawful activity. Rafting on a white river is a dangerous sport. If not regulated, paragliding is just as dangerous. Water activities in large lakes, such as Tehri Dam, can be deadly. The court stated, “These are required to be regulated.”
The HC said it was “shocked” to learn that the state administration is allowing camping on riverbeds and that this “pollutes the environment and ecology of the river and nearby places.”
The court stated that river rafting launch places are congested.
“Large rafts are loaded into small cars. The vehicles that transport the rafts are driven right up to the water’s edge. The proclamation said that “the state shall not permit the usage of automobiles right up to the water’s edge of rivers” and that the rafts would have to be carried manually from a distance.