National Green Tribunal, New Delhi (NGT): The Coram of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member), Prof. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member) and Dr Vijay Kulkarni (Expert Member) took suo moto cognizance based on media report highlighting the damage to the environment in eco-sensitive Himalayan States of India due to unregulated tourism.

Damage to the environment in Eco-Sensitive Himalayan States

Present matter was taken up in light of a media report to the effect that there was huge damage to the environment in eco-sensitive Himalayan States of India on account of unregulated tourism activities which needed to be regulated and checked to effectuate the Sustainable Development principle.

It was stated that, while tourism generates huge income and also employment, it also results in the generation of huge waste which is not scientifically handled, resulting in damage to the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas.

Noting the unsatisfactory situation, Tribunal held that remedial action needs to be taken.

Hence, G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment, Almora which is tasked with studies of Himalayan region in particular, which includes Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal Hills, Meghalaya, Assam Hills, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh to undertake study and to update any study already conducted in light of the inputs available in the above media report.

Additionally, the Coram directed that a report in the above regard be provided to the Chief Secretaries of 12 States in the Himalayan region as well as to the Secretary, Environment and Secretary, Tourism, Government of India for further action.

The Secretary, Environment, Government of India shall conduct an online meeting with the Chief Secretaries of 12 States within one month of the receipt of the above-said report to steer preparation of appropriate action plans in all the 12 States, dealing with mitigation measures to offset the adverse impact of tourism activities on the environment.

Compliance to be filed within 6 months. [ News item published in The Hindu dated 27.02.2022 titled “Tourism has brought economic prosperity to the Himalayan region, but the environmental cost has been catastrophic”, In re., 2022 SCC OnLine NGT 87, decided on 9-3-2022]

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