he green court has lifted the ban and allowed camping in 25 selected areas
As a hotter-than-normal summer looms ahead, there is some good news for lovers of camping and recreational sports - camping along the river Ganga near Rishikesh is allowed once again. The National Green Tribunal has lifted a 2-year-old ban today, accepting the Uttarakhand government's proposal to allow camping in 25 selected areas. But the camp sites, the Green court said, have to be 100 meters away.
The ban was put place in December 2015 following concerns about pollution. At the time, the tribunal also banned the use of plastic along the entire belt -- Kaudiyala to Rishikesh. Rafting, though, was allowed under certain conditions.
The ban was lifted today following representations from the Wildlife institute of India and the Uttarakhand Government which had recommended 33 beach sites on the 50km stretch. A huge amount of the state's revenue comes from tourism - with river rafting and camping high up on the to-do list of the tourists.
Camp site operators and the Uttarakhand Government had argued that the camps were promoting eco-tourism and as long as they followed best practices and ensured no harm to the environment, camping should be allowed.
Today, the Green Court said all camps will have to be 100m away from the river, which is why eight of the 33 proposed sites, which fall within 100m of the beaches, were dropped from the camping list.
The panel had constituted a committee of officials from various departments of central and Uttarakhand government to prepare a regulatory regime.
The order from the bench had come on a plea of an NGO, Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), against the "unregulated" operation of rafting camps in Rishikesh and other areas on the banks of river Ganga. The non-profit had argued that the government had not considered the "carrying capacity" of the river.