Giving a hard jolt to the adventure tourism sector in Uttarakhand, the state high court has banned water sports, including white river rafting, paragliding among others, until the administration puts in place a policy to regulate these activities.
A division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh ordered the ban in response to a plea filed by Rishikesh-based social activist Hari Om Kashyap.
In an order dated June 18, the court directed the state government to “prepare a transparent policy in this regard within a period of two weeks”.
The court also took note of rafting deaths every year due to capsizing of boat and said that it should only be permitted by highly trained professionals.
The court said that “sports for pleasure cannot be permitted to end in disaster”. The state government cannot permit the use of rivers without fixing reasonable charges and inviting bids in a transparent procedure. Tourism must be promoted but it is required to be regulated, the court said.
In an order that was made available on Thursday, the court said, "We are shocked to know that the state government is permitting camping sites on the river beds. It pollutes the environment and ecology of the river and the surrounding areas."
The order was issued by the HC on Monday, but a copy was made available only on Thursday.