Ban on rafting sparks debate in state

The Uttarakhand High Court’s order imposing a ban on river rafting and paragliding across the state has come as a shocker to adventure sports companies and adventure tourists who say a blanket ban is not the solution. 

The order has, however, been welcomed by the environmentalists who said the high court order was in the interest of the environment and ecology. Arvind Bhardwaj of the Red Chilli Adventure said the high court order would hit the rafting business hard as it would render the

people jobless.

“I have been involved in adventure activities in Rishikesh for the last 24 years. I am surprised to hear this order. The state government had issued guidelines for rafting. To put a ban on white river rafting and paragliding across the state is a very harsh direction. Our business has come to a standstill. This is the peak season for tourists. Now we will have to cancel all bookings. Huge losses will be suffered by us. Putting a blanket ban is not the solution. A proper monitoring has to be put in place for effective implementation of laws,” Bhardwaj said.Environment activist Vikrant Tongad, who had also filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against camping along the river, welcomed the HC decision, saying it would go a long way in protection of the environment and ecology.

“This is a very good order. Now it is for the Uttarakhand Government to properly implement the ban,” Tongad said.Kiran Todaria, president of the Indian Association of Professional Rafting Outfitters (IAPRO), said the livelihood of many families would be affected by this order.Gurgaon resident Pradyumna Sisodia, who was planning to go to Rishikesh this weekend for rafting, said he had already booked a camp site but got a cancellation call from the tour operator last night who told him about the high court order.“Our family was too excited for this trip but our bookings were cancelled at the last minute.

I don’t have any idea about the high court order but I don’t understand how rafting will cause pollution to the river,” he said.   Rishi Sachdeva of Cradle of Life, who runs campsite on the banks of the Ganga in Shivpuri, also said the order would have a negative impact on the business.Water rafting business in Uttarakhand is estimated to be generating a turnover of Rs 75-80 crore annually and employs nearly 10,000 people including guides, cooks, instructors and drivers.




News credit : TribuneIndia

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