A Ghaziabad-based environmentalist has written to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar expressing concern over the upcoming wedding of the sons of two South Africa-based controversial tycoon brothers in the ski destination of Auli in Uttarakhand.
Lawyer and environmentalist Akash Vashishtha, in his letter, states that he would be compelled to seek legal action, if the government does not act ahead of the event.
Vashishtha's letter states he was disturbed to learn about the wedding of the sons of Ajay Gupta and Atul Gupta -- who are being probed by the Income Tax Department for alleged money laundering -- between June 18-20 in Auli area of Chamoli district in the Garhwal Himalayas.
While Ajay Gupta's son Suryakant gets married on June 18-20, his younger brother Atul Gupta's son Shashank ties the knot on June 20-22. People monitoring the arrangements peg the wedding to cost an estimated Rs 200 crore!
According to Vashishtha, situated at an altitude of 2,505 metres, in close proximity to the snow-covered Himalayan peaks such as Nanda Devi, Mana Parvat and Kamat, Auli is a fragile ecology, blanketed with thick snow for most parts of the year.
"It is extremely rich in genetic biodiversity, with over 500 species of high-altitude flowering plants and its eco-sensitivity has been asserted in the reports of several commissions."
The letter says: "The Garhwal Himalayas are already battling for pristinity and existence, with no mechanism yet for enforcement of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, no sewage system, no assessment of carrying capacities, no water harvesting systems, no framing of the zonal plans and no assessments of the Cumulative Impact and any such unmindful and reckless personal event would cause irreversible damage to the fragile ecology of the whole Himalayan landscape."
According to the letter: "The sudden rise in the number of people in the form of their guests would generate massive quantum of waste, heat and sound, which would be grossly deleterious to the local environment.
"This kind of personal wedding functions would also set a very wrong precedent for the future and would counter the ongoing private as well as government's efforts towards conserving the fragile Himalayan ecology," it adds.
Vashishtha says: "It is highly unfortunate and unwarranted that the Uttarakhand government is itself promoting this ecologically-disastrous affair. It is equally unfortunate that the Centre is maintaining silence on the issue.
"We would humbly request you to issue urgent directions under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to halt this environmentally disastrous wedding event of two private individuals who are also bring probed for violation of the tax laws of India."
"If action is not taken, we would be compelled to seek judicial review and damages towards the environment from the parties concerned," says the letter.