22 Jun 2018: HC suspends water sports in Uttarakhand till the government acts
This might hit your travel plans hard.
The Uttarakhand HC has suspended water sports in all the rivers in the state, including in Rishikesh, till the administration implements an efficient safety policy targeting both tourists and the environment.
The state government has two weeks to come up with the policy.
The order was issued four days ago, but it was made public only yesterday.
Rafting: The thriving water sports industry has no safety measures
Uttarakhand is an adventure lover's delight. Around 8L tourists take rafting tours from the Kaudiyala, Shivpuri or Brahmpuri points annually.
But three among 12 major rapids in the popular Kaudiyala-Rishikesh stretch are considered very dangerous, and have claimed several lives.
Rafting agencies have mushroomed, but in violation of norms, inexperienced guides regularly load young children, women in saris and the elderly into overcrowded rafts.
Pollution: On the other hand, impact on environment is deadly
The impact on environment is hazardous too. The court noted tourists are allowed to organize picnics and camps near the river, which results in rampant littering.
Private agencies illegally set up temporary structures on the banks for their operations. Small vehicles carrying huge rafts go right up to the water, which pollutes it.
Meanwhile, raw sewage is also being dumped directly into the river.