The National Green Tribunal has sought the Centre's response on "unregulated" operation of rafting camps on the banks of Ganga from Shivpuri to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notice to Environment Ministry (MoEF), Ministry of Water Resources, Uttarakhand government and others on a plea by an NGO seeking closure of rafting camps in Rishikesh as they cause pollution to the river.
The matter is listed for next hearing on May 8.
During the hearing, the Uttarakhand government assured the bench that no new licences for camps would be issued.
The plea, filed by Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), claimed that the licences for river rafting camps were being awarded "indiscriminately" by the authorities on forest land without appreciating their carrying capacity.
"These camps are not only in violation of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 but also the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 as well as the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 as it is leading to pollution of Ganga by discharging effluent, throwing of solid waste directly and adversely affecting the ecological integrity of the river system," the plea said.
The petition, filed through advocate Rahul Chowdhary, alleges that these camps, which are located and established as temporary sites, do not have adequate sewage and sanitation facilities and disturb the habitat of wild animals and "affect the peace, tranquility and serenity of the forest area".
"At the camp sites, the camp owners permit employees and the visitors to have food and alcohol. They leave empty bottles, cans, unconsumed food and waste including bones and filth in and around the camp site," the plea said.