National Green Tribunal to decide on future of rafting camps on Ganges soon

National Green Tribunal to decide on future of rafting camps on Ganges soon

India's green court seeks report on rafting, camping on Ganges; says it has no intent to ban camps on the Ganges if they follow rules.

Four months after rafting camps on the Ganges came under threat of a shut-down, it looks like a verdict on their future will be announced soon.

The National Green Tribunal* (NGT), India's top environmental court said at a hearing on the matter on Friday that it has no intent to ban rafting camps on the Ganges as long as they comply with rules.

The court has demanded that a senior official from Uttarakhand state government present original copies of inspection reports on rafting and camping activity and give proof of action taken against violators of rules in the last 20 years.

On 31st March, the NGT had passed an interim order stating that it would not grant any permission for rafting camps till the date of next hearing. The order came about after a non-profit petitioned the court to close camps on the Ganges on grounds that they cause ecological damage.

The Outdoor Journal has been following the case ever since, leading to questions on the politics of licensing of camps, discerning the 'good' operators from the 'bad' and ultimately, whether rafting camps cause an ecological damage.

"We are happy that the judge heard us out, that we are not the sort of industry that does environmental damage, that we are not against regulation and monitoring of any kind, have in fact requested for it many times, and that the entire industry should not be impacted by a few violations that may have occurred in the past," said Vaibhav Kala, of Aquaterra, a 20-year old adventure tour operator based in Shivpuri. He was present at the hearing.

"Hopefully, we will get a clear picture by next week," he added.

Rafting season begins in September and goes on till June.

The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday, 13th August.

UPDATE: The final hearing is now scheduled for Thursday, 20th August.

*National Green Tribunal (NGT) is an arbitration body created in accordance to the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010, a Parliamentary Act which allows the NGT to handle cases related to environmental issues.

Feature Image: A campsite by the Ganges. From Wikimedia Commons