Dehradun: The Uttarakhand High Court has banned all water sports, including white water rafting and paragliding, across the state till the time the state government does not come out with a policy to regulate these activities in tune with the safety of the people indulging in the sports and also the environment.
A Division Bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh ordered the ban in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Rishikesh-based social activist Hari Om Kashyap.
“The state government is directed to prepare a transparent policy within a period of two weeks. Till the policy is framed, no white river rafting, paragliding and other water sports shall be permitted in the state of Uttarakhand,” the order said.
The high court also said that a suitable legislation for regulating all adventure sports in the state was the need of the hour. It also censured the state for failing to bring in a law to regulate water sports activities.
The decision is bound to affect adventure tourism in the state on which the government’s tourism department is banking heavily. Recently, Tehri festival was held to promote water sports activities on the Tehri lake, including introduction of sea plane as an added attraction for tourists.
The high court also observed that raw sewage was being permitted to flow into river. The state government has till date not enacted any law to regulate white river rafting, paragliding or water sports, it said.
“The state government cannot be oblivious to its duties to regulate and restrict the unauthorised activities. The white river rafting is a serious sport. Paragliding is equally dangerous if not regulated. The water sports in big lakes like Tehri Dam can prove fatal. These are required to be regulated,” noted the judges.