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News

Aug 08, 2015

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.

WRITTEN BY

Supriya Vohra

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

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Events

Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.

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WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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