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Uttarkhand Govt to Move HC for Lifting Ban on Adventure Water Sports

White river water rafting has emerged as a major adventure sports in the Ganga River since the 80s. Despite efforts were made to popularise Tons River in Dehradun and Kali River in Pithoragarh district as the new rafting destinations, Ganga has always remained the preferred site.

Anupam Trivedi | News18

Updated:August 9, 2018, 12:19 PM IST
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Uttarkhand Govt to Move HC for Lifting Ban on Adventure Water Sports
More than 2 lakh people are estimated to be associated with the rafting business in 36-km Kaudiyala-Rishikesh Ganga stretch.
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Dehradun: The Uttarakhand government will soon move High Court to revoke the ban on adventure sports. The state cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to the new adventure sports policy, where stringent rules have been made to make rafting and paragliding safer in the hill state, said minister Prakash Pant.

In June this year, a division bench of the court had said “sanctity of river is compromised as people drink alcohol and party on the riverside”. While passing the order, the court had also mentioned about risks involved in paragliding after couple of accidents had taken place.

A Rishikesh-based social activist Hari Om Kashyap had filed a petition in the High Court complaining that rafting in Ganga was being carried out without a safe framework.

Minister Pant told News18 that the new policy authorises the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB) to give approvals to the proposal of adventure sports in the state, including white water river rafting and paragliding. Earlier, those in business would have to seek approvals from various departments.

Further, the new policy refuses permission to private vehicles from transporting rafts beyond 100 meters from the river bank. In fact, several vehicles would otherwise approach till the river bank carrying rafts atop the roof. The policy also talks about restricting drunken individuals from rafting.

The industry has welcomed the cabinet decision. Ratan Aswal, one of the rafting operators said it was a long awaited move. He, however, said that it has to be seen how the government will ensure that everything goes smoothly.

“Due to the government’s sluggish approach, the beach camping on Ganga bank is yet to start even after NGT gave conditional approval. Now UTDB has been authorised (for approvals) but who will ensure that operators are not harassed” Aswal said.

White river water rafting has emerged as a major adventure sports in the Ganga River since the 80s. Though there have been efforts to popularise Tons River in Dehradun and Kali River in Pithoragarh district as the new rafting destinations, but Ganga always remained the preferred site for tourists.

More than 2 lakh people are estimated to be associated with the rafting business in 36-km Kaudiyala-Rishikesh Ganga stretch. Rafting continues throughout the year, barring July to mid Sept, when it is closed due to monsoon.

Besides rafting, the Uttarakhand government has framed rules for aero sports, namely paragliding. Some nine odd operators are involved in paragliding in Nainital’s Bhimtal valley.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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