The National Green Tribunal (NGT), after a long drawn dispute, has today, allowed camping at 25 sites, in Rishikesh, along the Ganges. However, they said that camping activities should be carried out in an eco-friendly manner, rather than on a purely commercial basis.
The bench, headed by NGT chairperson, Swatanter Kumar, lifted the ban, which had been imposed in 2015. The bench also accepted the management plan, along with the regulatory regime which had been submitted by the Uttarakhand government.
The ban imposed by the NGT had prohibited camping activity in the belt, right from Kaudiyala upto Rishikesh. Camping activities can now be carried out along this belt, however, only on 25 out of the 33 sites, which had been recommended by the government.
Their reason for rejecting the said eight sites was because they fell within 100m from the middle of the Ganges, during the lean season flow.
Elaborating on their decision, the tribunal said that, “We hold and declare that the Management Plan and Regulatory Regime as submitted by the Uttarakhand government and as approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) shall come into force forthwith…We expect that the state will encourage eco-tourism activity… while ensuring that camping activity is carried on in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner rather than on a purely commercial basis with modern luxuries.”
The tribunal’s approval, however, comes with their own set of terms and conditions. Authorities have been instructed to keep a strict eye on the 25 campsite to see whether or not they are complying with the tribunal’s directions. Furthermore, state authorities are to submit reports on camping and rafting activities at these camps, every six months.
The tribunal also said that, 22 out of the 25 camping sites, are “partially within and partially outside” the 100m restriction. Camping activities on these 22 sites is limited only to the areas that fall outside of the 100m restricted zone. The remaining three sites fall outside of the 100m restricted zone.
“The remaining part of the beach within 100 metres and where it forms integral and inseparable part of the beach would not be used for any effective beach camping activity,” said the tribunal.