Your Trip To Uttarakhand’s Higher Reaches Might Get Pricey

| Updated: 28 June, 2022 8:33 pm IST

DEHRADUN: If the experts have their way, our trip to the higher reaches of Uttarakhand might get costlier while the money generated could be used to develop the villages in those places.

A team of experts including environmentalists and trekkers have written to the Uttarakhand tourism department recommending levying a ‘Green Tax’ or an ‘Environment Tax’ which can be utilized by villages at Vyas valley, Darma Valley and Om Parbat.

“Alternatively, Green Tax or Environment levy could be charged and utilized by all the villages en route for creating wayside amenities, sanitation etc,” stated a letter by Wing Commander (Retd) Sudhir Krishnankutty, honorary secretary of Mumbai based ‘The Himalayan Club’. The letter also warned that ‘too much pollution could spoil the beauty and spiritual aura of the area’ in these places.

Commenting on the issue state tourism minister Satpal Maharaj said, “Pollution and concretization in higher reaches of the hills is a matter of concern and we will look into the matter.” “The development in the hills should be sustainable and planned,” the minister added.


The team, which visited the areas from May 19-23, also recommended the government limit the number of tourists and vehicles and regulate the construction of houses in these areas.

They also said that no overnight stays should be permitted at Jollingkong either in tents or any built-up accommodation. The letter recommended that it should be declared as an ‘Eco-Sensitive Zone or Sacred zone’ where only planned development can take place.

Outlining the role of local administration the letter added, “Since tourism in the region is at a nascent stage, support and guidance of the local administration is essential to avoid the ill effects of over-commercialization and haphazard construction/ development by locals leading to degradation of the environment.”

The letter further added that a limited number of tourists/vehicles per day be allowed to travel above Dharchula in the Pithoragarh district. “Self-drive vehicles by tourists should be restricted to around 20-25 per day at least in the initial stage when the road is under construction to minimize traffic congestion/accidents caused by inexperienced drivers,” said the letter adding that this will also lead to the hiring of local vehicles, boosting the local economy.

Pointing out that groups of bikers and solo riders are travelling without any prior bookings for accommodation, without much knowledge of the problems at high altitude and other backup support, should not be allowed, the letter stated. “Only those with confirmed bookings for accommodation should be allowed to go beyond the first check post – Garbyang/ Chiyalekh Pass,” it added.

The letter also recommended a focus on community homestays, rather than individual homestays, adding that each village could form a committee and pool resources and organize the equitable distribution of room bookings.

Revealing the limitations to providing medical assistance in these areas, the letter stated that the visitors, the majority of whom are above the age of 50 years staying at that altitude are also susceptible to medical problems. “Evacuation in case of bad weather will also be risky and it will put additional stress on the administration and armed forces in the region,” added the letter.

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