The National Green Tribunal on Thursday declined to prevent flying of helicopters in the eco-sensitive zone at Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarakhand and asked the State to issue specific directions in consonance with the aviation policy.
“We decline to prevent flying of helicopters in that area,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.
“However, we direct the State government to issue specific directions in consonance with the aviation policy with specific reference to the eco-sensitive zones at Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary in relation to height and level of noise that the helicopter being used by the company should be permitted to generate,” the tribunal said.
The green panel also directed the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board to give their input to the State government within two weeks.
“The State of Uttarakhand shall take immediate steps to submit its proposal for notification of eco-sensitive zone covering Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary,” it said adding the proposal must be submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests within three weeks.
The Tribunal verdict came on a plea filed by NGO Doaba Paryavaran Samiti which had sought closure of chopper services in the area alleging it was a threat to the flora and fauna.
Pilgrims who intend to avoid the 16-km trek to visit the shrine of Kedarnath in Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand opt for helicopter services to reach the destination.
In its plea, filed through advocate Gaurav Bansal, the NGO had said that even a top forest official wrote a letter to the authorities citing the impact of helicopters over the sanctuary which clearly states that the services has forced endangered species like Musk Deer and Himalayan Thar to abandon their habitat. - PTI