In December 2015, the NGT had asked the centre and state to frame a policy on helicopter charter services which operate from Ghata village, near Gauri Kund, the base of the 16 km long trek to the shrine located high up in the Himalayas. Many tourists take the 8-10 minute helicopter ride to the top of the summit instead of the 16 km trek.
The Kedarnath shrine is located in the Kedarnath National park, an eco-sensitive zone with rich flora and fauna including the Musk Deer, snow leopard and Himalayan Tahr. Conservationists had in 2015 questioned the air charter services which according to them were disturbing the wildlife and also leading to large number of tourists arriving at the summit, beyond the carrying capacity of Kedarnath.
While the NGT did not suspend the helicopter service, it had asked the state and central government to frame policies and regulations under the aviation policy to ensure that least damage and disturbance is caused to the eco sensitive zone.
Kedarnath had come into international focus when a flash flood had wreaked havoc on the temple town killing 5,700 people, mostly pilgrims who had gone to visit the shrine.
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