NGT notice on unregulated chopper service to Kedarnath

Petition highlights threat to wildlife in eco-sensitive zone

April 26, 2017 01:03 am | Updated 01:03 am IST - New Delhi

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday issued notices to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Uttarakhand government, National Board for Wildlife and others on a plea raising concern over the looming threat to the flora and fauna in the eco-sensitive zone in the State due to regular operation of helicopters.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Kavita Ashok seeking execution of its December 10, 2015 order.

In the order, the court had asked the Uttarakhand government to issue directions in consonance with its aviation policy with reference to the eco-sensitive zones at the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary in relation to the height and level of noise that helicopters should be permitted to generate.

Treasure trove

The wildlife preserve is known for trees such as oak, chir, pine, birch and alpine. It is also home to endangered and rare species like the musk deer and the Himalayan tahr (a type of wild goat).

A large number of pilgrims, intending to avoid the 16-km trek to visit the Kedarnath shrine in Rudraprayag district, opt for chopper services to reach the destination.

The petitioner also sought imposition of penalty for non-compliance with the green court order.

‘No action taken’

The plea, filed through advocate Gaurav Bansal, further alleged that the authorities had not acted on the interim measures as suggested by the Wildlife Institute of India.

“The applicant has learnt from an article published in a leading English daily that the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, has also suggested that the Uttarakhand government shift the Sersi helipad, which is close to the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. As the helicopter service is likely to start ... [soon], the respondents can use the gap period for preparation of interim measures as suggested by the institute,” the plea had read.

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