High Court Order Ends Trekking in Uttarakhand

T he High Court of Uttarakhand has passed an order that prevents overnight camping in the high altitude meadows (and semi meadows) of Uttarakhand. Before I get into what it means for trekkers take a look at the order yourself.

Well, initially we thought it was a terrific, well meaning order. It was a step in the right direction. Yet, when we looked deeper we felt it was not very well thought out.

The High Court has left many points ambiguous. I’ll get to that later.

Without surprise it sets a cat loose on a hot tin roof. The forest department immediately clamped down on treks across Uttarakhand. A notice from the Chief Conservator of Forests, was sent to all DFOs of Uttarakhand. They were asked to follow the high court orders. The DFOs (District Forest Officers) in turn instructed their Regional Offices not to allow trekking.

What turned out to be an order that did not allow overnight camping on the meadows has now brought a complete stop to trekking in Uttarakhand. It sounds bizarre, but that’s how it is. No one can make out anything of this. And no one can go trekking.

Naturally, the people of Uttarakhand are up in arms about this. They welcome regulations to trekking, but a complete stop also means a full stop to any livelihood. With the September season coming up, everyone is scared.

Trekkers across the country (and the world) are stumped too. Plans have been made, flights have been booked. At Indiahikes we are somewhat lucky. We have the ability to shift people to other treks in Himachal and Kashmir. In other organisations they are simply stranded.

The original petitioners of the RTI, the Aali-Bedini-Bagzi Bugyal Sanrakshan Samiti, are absolutely befuddled. They never wanted their petition to end trekking. They just wanted to protect the Bugyals (meadows). What’s worse, their leader, Mr Patwal passed away a few months ago. Now there is no one to lead them. So everyone’s making their own judgement.

Members of the Aali-Bedini-Bagzi Bugyal Sanrakshan Samiti come together to discuss their stance. Picture By: Dhansingh

We knew Mr Patwal well. He was a friend of trekking and a friend of Indiahikes. In fact we started Indiahikes out of his premises in Lohajung on the Roopkund trek way back in 2009. We have spent countless hours with Mr Patwal discussing the future of these meadows.

In this state of utter confusion, the people of Uttarakhand have met the Chief Minister and the Secretaries of Tourism. The CM has promised to go to the Supreme Court to challenge the order.

Meanwhile, everyone has legitimate questions that they are asking. These are:

1. How can the High Court take away a right to livelihood?
2. How can prohibition be a solution? Isn’t regulation the way ahead instead of a complete ban?
3. What is the evidence that tourism leads to the damage of Bugyals? Or that overnight camping destroys the Bugyals?

Why can’t we have responsible tourism (like how we at Indiahikes do)? I have a good reason to say so.

Somehow people assume that if an organisation takes more trekkers it does more harm to the environment. They sometimes fail to see that larger organisations are more conscientious, they have better processes and resources to do good. The Green Trails project that Indiahikes runs is an example of it.

It is ironical that the biggest Green Trails project that Indiahikes runs is based out of Lohajung (on the Roopkund trek). Indiahikes has been responsible for extensive clean up of the trekking trails, segregation of waste, installing greenhouse projects, ensuring a system of waste collection in the local villages, setting up of upcycling projects with the help of villagers. This documentary will give you an idea.

Even in the months when we don’t operate treks, our team is still working on the Green Trails project in these regions. For example, in these months of July and August six of our team members were working there (including people from abroad). You may not be aware but educated village women from these villages work full time with Indiahikes on our Green Trails projects.

Who sponsors them? Who accounts for their work? Well, there is a dedicated Green Trails team at Indiahikes who work independently taking environmental concerns forward. The resources come from Indiahikes.

Looking at us, other organisations have followed suit. It is heartening to see organisations make their own clean up programs. There is a sense of self regulation among the larger organisations. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about smaller groups who go there. They are usually trekking groups of 4-5 people with local guides.

The smaller groups dirty the most. So do the dhabas who have just sprouted up. They need to be regulated.

It is absolutely disheartening when trekkers and general public, and now even the high court assumes that if there is pollution then it must be a result of tourism. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Like any activity, trekking too needs regulation. In Sikkim, the Khangchendzonga conservation committee have stepped in to regulate trekkers on trekking trails. They have done a wonderful job of it. Trails in Sikkim are mostly clean despite the large number of trekkers who go on them. Similarly, initiatives need to be taken in Uttarakhand.

India cannot be compared to Nepal in the sheer number of trekkers who trek. Yet Nepal has learnt to manage trekking by bringing in wonderful regulations. The tea houses are regulated, guides and porters have been made into associations. Regular education and training have been given to them. They enforce that trekkers do not litter or damage the environment.

Isn’t that the step forward?

In the High Court order, what was a petition to save the local Bugyals, the High Court has gone ahead and made sweeping statements about how tourism damages the environment, bringing in a stop to trekking. That too in entire Uttarakhand. This is an extreme step!

Today we are paying the price with a stop to trekking.

Our personal feeling is that this kind of ban is not sustainable in the long run. India is a growing country and the whole world’s attention is on it. Adventure tourism cannot be wished away. We believe it must be regulated but not banned.

Uttarakhand is India’s largest destination for adventure tourism. Thousands of lives are dependent on it. The Government must challenge the High Court order.

The Government has promised quick action. We are hoping a stay order from the Supreme court may happen anytime soon (perhaps by end of September). But for that the Government has to act quickly.

As of now all of us are very worried.

If you are trekking with Indiahikes in Uttarakhand and have a trek coming up, get in touch with your trek coordinator. We have alternative options for you.

If you have any thoughts or arguments about the High Court order, put them in the comments box below. These reach a lot of people, including Government bodies.

If you want to read the complete order, you can find it here.

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Swathi Chatrapathy

Swathi Chatrapathy

Swathi Chatrapathy is the Chief Editor at Indiahikes. She heads the content team and runs a video series called Trek With Swathi. Before joining Indiahikes, she worked as a reporter and sub-editor at Deccan Chronicle. She holds a Masters in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications such as Deccan Herald. Trekking, to her, is a sport that liberates that mind like nothing else can. Through her work at Indiahikes, she hopes to let more people experience this sense of liberation, by spreading information about trekking and by instilling the right spirit of trekking in them. Read Swathi's other articles. Watch Swathi's video series here.

126 thoughts on “High Court Order Ends Trekking in Uttarakhand

  1. Court orders sometime do get confusing and government departments tend to make their own understanding of the same. Would be happy to discuss solutions as i am a lawyer by protession. Before going to supreme court a petition can be made to the Uttaraljand HC itself asking for clarofications and asking the High court to check execition of its own orders.

  2. I read about this order and the news few days back in the newspaper. I was very sad while reading it and surprised how can the Court pass such an order. And if nothing is done about this then maybe other states Courts may do the same. Trekking is as good as oxygen for all involved in it – the villagers, the trekkers, the porters, the cooks, the staff etc.

  3. It is very sad that the Govt of Uttaranchal stops trekkers from experiencing the beauty of the Hiamalayas
    Note that the villages surrounding these treks will loose income greatly, they will suffer the loss. If trekkers interact with villagers both can learn a lot from each other. Mankind needs to get to nature,away from city life and just chill in the surounding beauty. The fresh oxygen rejuvenates the BODY,MIND and SOUL, The atmosphere cleanses one. Peace and tranquillity makes you think clearly how to resolve your day to day
    problems, I would know this as I go for my walk daily in the evenings. I hope the Govt reconsiders it decision

  4. Court should regulate the treks with rules and guidelines…

    1. Treks must be allowed only to certified communities…. Who organise treks on large scale…. Like Indiahikes or other equivalent firm…. So that they can have accountability of clean environment…..

    2. Forest department should ban the entry of individual trekker or small groups…. or the people who are doing trekking without any certified group…… Because no body can have check and balance on individual trekkers…. If we are trekking with indiahikes or equivalent firm…. They can take responsibility of cleaning and also can regulate strict rules of cleaning for their participants….

    1. I am 68 years old, my trekmate is 82 years old. We are treking in the high Himalayas since 1994. When we both spent 4 nights in stone enclosures at Baidini Bugyal and Baguabasa with a minimal life substaining dry food (Satu, chida, milk powder and sugar), Trekker’s of big travel agency spent those nights in luxury of camps and kitchen. We left not a single flap of polythene in the meadows, as we had none disposable. We Trek once or twice every year in this way. And you are taking of banning small trekking group ?

      1. Dear sir that’s wonderful to hear! India needs more trekkers like you. We don’t want any trekking banned for anyone. But we are with the thoughts of the forest department to protect the environment.

  5. We are helpless without GOD and GOD is useless without us.
    Similarly people will be helpless without DEVA BHOOMI and DEVA BHOOMI is useless without people.
    India must find out another way. Banning can’t be solution as a lot of people depend on this tourism.

  6. This will lead to massive corruption of the government and forest department servers as they will just allow camping with taking money.
    Mostly the greasing palms of the forest department s will do the trick and this blanket ban will only harm immensely the local people’s livelihood as they are mostly dependent on trek tourism.
    Regulations are very important but not prohibitions.

  7. Lets start an online petition and demand for regulation and not a complete ban! The current order may cause other states to follow suit.

  8. This is very disappointing. Now a day our judiciary system is unnecessary putting nose in every matter. Government should take immediate action on this. This will end all tourism in Uttarakhand.
    Govt need to educate locals for conservation of nature. We all know, most of the trekkers are responsible peoples and they know how to help for conserving nature.
    In last trek with Indiahikes, we gather all plastic waste was littered by local villagers only.
    Court has taken very wrong decision.

  9. This is really very sad to not be able to Trek in Uttarakhand. First they stopped rafting this suddenly and not this. Having things regulated is aleays good but the way things are being implemented is like its just decided one fine morning.. We have planned trek in third week of September, 2018. Flights booked as travelling from Gujarat, connecting trains booked, leave from job approved and other accommodation too.. such sudden decision doesn’t help anyone. At least provide time to people, provide a deadline say post this season of December 31,2018 likewise etc. Decision of banning from immediate effect has so much other consequences for trekkers.. hope they consider this trekking for this season and have a well regulated trek from next…. Hoping that Uttarakhand stays in the trekking calendar of people..

  10. – Permits need to be regulated, thus regulating the total number of people trekking any given day
    – Small irresponsible players to be regulated
    – and of course there has to be a fair balance between how we can save the environment with minimal or no impact on livelihoods.

  11. Obviously regulation is the way forward instead of a complete ban. Can we help in any way? Would a signed petition from people in the treakking community help? If so request you to please start one.

  12. This is bad! Why dont they stop “religious tourism” too since that affects the environment more than nature loving trekkers?

  13. Hopefully by next year this would be resolved when I am planning to trek.

    All judges in India should be on contract basis, who have worked outside law studies and earned their livelihood like regular folks. These is a stark disconnect between ground realities and the judgements they pass. They live in a parallel alternate universe.

  14. I think IH should seek modification of the order by filing an application in the Writ Petition (which is disposed of) or IH should appeal against the direction at paragraph no. 33 (E) seeking modification of the direction by replacing the ban with permissions with regulations on the trekking activities by certified organisations like IH.

    From what I have read above, IH is in better position to seek modification of the aforesaid direction. Government would take its own time and would do so under pressure from local people. We do not need stay on the order and judgment. We only need modification of direction at paragraph no. 33 (E) rest of the directions are excellent.

    Therefore even if Government moves Supreme Court, in my opinion IH should intervene.

    This is on the basis of your article which suggest that IH has sufficient material and data to seek modification of the direction.

  15. Yup, it’s unfortunate, “BAN” & “STOP” or simply put “muddling through” is the approach to decision making. A Vision/Plan/Consensus led approach appears to be a far-off thought process.

  16. This is an extreme step without a prior notice.
    – It impacts revenue generation from tourism.
    – It impacts common people like me who have already booked trek and flight tickets. Is High court planning to return the charged of my flights too? If so, pleae so it asap.
    – We all are facing pollution problem. So to avoid this, have you banned production of vehicles? What about industries, have you asked them to shut down? NO. WHY? Instead we are working on how to regulate it by using cycle, not using polythene.
    – Ban is definitely not a solution to any problem. If so, ban everything which causes problems. Like, ban cutting trees and building concrete jingle on that land.
    – What about people who’s bread and butter comes from this?

  17. This post left me highly emotional and instantly speechless. Not just because it impacts me and other passionate hikers personally, but also because of the sheer stupidity in the rationale (if one exists) behind this decision. The problem stated (increased pollution) and the implemented solution (ban hiking) reminds me of the old anecdotal saying – I have a headache, to solve it let me cut off my head. Let alone solve the problem, the ban actually creates problems by snatching livelihoods.

    I realize now the full gravity of Arjun’s post last week. Are there ways to petition against this? If someone knows, let’s join hands together.

  18. This is really very sad to not be able to Trek in Uttarakhand. First they stopped rafting this suddenly and not this. Having things regulated is aleays good but the way things are being implemented is like its just decided one fine morning.. We have planned trek in third week of September, 2018. Flights booked as travelling from Gujarat, connecting trains booked, leave from job approved and other accommodation too.. such sudden decision doesn’t help anyone. At least provide time to people, provide a deadline say post this season of December 31,2018 likewise etc. Decision of banning from immediate effect has so much other consequences for trekkers.. hope they consider this trekking for this season and have a well regulated trek from next…. Hoping that Uttarakhand stays in the trekking calendar of people…

  19. This is really very sad to not be able to Trek in Uttarakhand. First they stopped rafting this suddenly and not this. Having things regulated is aleays good but the way things are being implemented is like its just decided one fine morning.. We have planned trek in third week of September, 2018. Flights booked as travelling from Gujarat, connecting trains booked, leave from job approved and other accommodation too.. such sudden decision doesn’t help anyone. At least provide time to people, provide a deadline say post this season of December 31,2018 likewise etc. Decision of banning from immediate effect has so much other consequences for trekkers.. hope they consider this trekking for this season and have a well regulated trek from next…. Hoping that Uttarakhand stays in the trekking calendar of people..

  20. This is very unfortunate. Can India hikes and other organizations collaborate and reach high court or supreme Court to review the decision?

  21. The ban is a very unfortunate step taken by the Uttarakhand high court and is not thought out at all. Probably the government is seeing all natural calamities hitting the state as a by product of too much human footfalls on the higher untouched areas of the region. This could however be false and high court should first probe deeper into what is causing the damage to environment and what steps could help maintain the eco balance.
    Totally banning the treks and trekking group will hit the tourism industry badly in uttarakhand. Many foreign groups also travel to the state and is a great source of income for the locals as well as the state.
    The highcourt should revise its order and just impose some restrictions on overnight camping and state some DOS & DONTS to be followed by all companies and groups.
    No one should be deprived to explore the beauty of the mountains if they are ready to follow all the rules & regulations set by the state.

  22. Prohibiting trekking seems to be a short sighted step. What was needed was some regulations, so that trashing the mountains would be curtailed to a great extent. Maybe it is an opportunity for organizations like Indiahikes, gio etc. to get together and formulate guidelines so that it can help the courts come to a more feasible solution for all parties involved.

  23. Banning trekkers and mountain lovers who are trekking for a good reason and many other reasons like to find peace, infinity types things by going in high Alti, is not a good step. Many of many trekkers follow the green trail policy, they clean the area by collecting waste on their way. And again stopping them to come Himalayas which is also ours is not a good decision. Hope will sort out soon

  24. How can judiciary system act against the interest of it’s own citizen? This is the question of the hour. Very disheartening judgment by the high court & I request all the trekking community & UK political system to make an appeal to the supreme court making them understand how serious this issue effect the individuals & community. Thank you India Hikes for bringing this issue and hope you people play a bigger role in this crisis time. I request you to make a petition using change.org or any other such institution & get passed through your subscription list to get signed & submitted to Government & Supreme Court for a stay order. Hope to hear good news soon.

  25. Every human has the right to explore nature responsibly and no one can deny anyone such right. Given the circumstances, government should put a check and not ban trekking altogether.

  26. Thats really a bad news. Uttarakhand is a kind of trekking paradise for all of us. It was absoutely stunning experience to be part of Brahmatal trek through Indiahikes. And Im sure other treks will also offer similar kind of beautiful experience. Dont know the deep inside story behind this ban. But will request to find some way out and let people allow to live their Himalayan dreams through these UK treks. Lets hope for best to happen soon !!

  27. This is a very unfortunate decision to be taken by the high court. I am sure the order is issued based on some facts that indicate that allowing of trekkers to High altitude treks endanger the natural habit in some manner or the other.
    If these facts are known it would be possible to carve out some stringent regulations that can be adhered to by all trekker. We need more information on the reason behind this decision.

    1. Hi Kartika,

      I agree. We wish there were some concrete instances behind, but didn’t find anything in the order.

      Thanks,
      Aditya

  28. i have worked closely with Dr Madhav Gadgil committee on Western Ghats and other Ngo,s instrumental in stopping rampant iron ore mining in western ghat area of Goa. In our case also we had pleaded to court to stop unauthorized / illegal iron ore mining but as the case progressed in high court and later in supreme court the line between legal and illegal started appearing blurred with every passing hearing so much so that court decided to put blanket ban on mining. These type of decisions arise due to failure of state governments to put forth their say in order, this happens because they themselves have no notebooks to keep track of their homework. state governments are so unorganized on the issues of environment protection that courts get irritated by their apathy and put a blanket ban to give them a wake up call from their deep slumber. i am sure , Getting a stay in supreme court is not difficult considering long term socio economic impact of the order but what is important is to follow up the case by proposing a full proof regulatory plan for controlling human activities in the eco sensitive areas.

  29. I think it would really help if the government has a concrete step-wise action plan to regulate trekking and mitigate its environmental impact, when it approaches Supreme Court for lifting this ban. I also know from experience that governments, especially of a smaller state like Uttarakhand, do not have the time to draft such long-term visionary plans, since they are always in fire-fighting mode. This is where India Hikes, the Aali-Bedini-Bagzi Bugyal Sanrakshan Samiti, and other trekking groups can be really helpful. If you could get together and draft such a plan for the government and present it to the Chief Secretary or the Tourism Department, that would help the government strengthen their SC petition.
    Moreover, the forest department should be explained that the HC ban is on camping at these meadows, not banning trekking all together. Again, India Hikes and other companies could sit together and chart out practical ways of honouring the high court judgement (through shorter routes or other plans) and running day hikes of some kind. This could work as an interim solution to ensure livelihoods are not completely impacted, cause I doubt the Supreme Court will spring into action so soon for an issue that doesn’t have the necessary political clout.

    1. Hi Ishani,

      You make a brilliant point. We will definitely work with the stakeholders and chalk out a plan.

      Thanks,
      Aditya

      1. Would be happy to assist on the first part – drafting the plan of action – once you have collated ideas and data from concerned stakeholders.
        Thanks
        Ishani

  30. I am not in a position to comment on High Court’s Order, But I am tell you one thing, do you aware of the incident take places on Chainsheel Bugyal, Uttarkashi on 10th April 2018 and again on Hampta Pass on 20th August 2018 and in both the occasion accident were invited by the lac of knowledge and irresponsibility of the organiser.
    Please don’t take it of your own, but there are so many organisation headed by non-technical person who’s motive is to earn more money and they are less bother about the safety and securities of the trekker simultaneously they are not bother about the cleanness of the mountain.
    Administration has to do something — I am agree with you, the order impact on the live hood of so many people, but if there is no live at all ?

  31. This is just like overeating leads to stomach issue, bad the food.
    This is not a solution, just a quick evasion. The real problem is much bigger and needs much comprehensive solution. State Government needs to work together with organisations like IndiaHikes, which have noble intentions.

    I believe, people staying in hotels have a negative impact rather than the ones who camp, along with other solutions, state need to put a check on mushrooming hotels, dhabas and polluting vehicles.

    More damage is done by the activities in urban areas than trekkers.

    Anyway Green Initiatives would anyway undo the damage (if any), moreover trekking is linked to livelihood of so many people.

  32. OMG! Who regulates the court now? Did the judge actually use expert advice? This is a clear example of judicial overreach. Court should not decide on these matters but should ask the government to act on this and remain an observer to ensure prompt action. I am sure sanity will prevail but it needs to happen quickly.

  33. The news is very painful to all the trek lovers as well as the mountain people. There are so many mountain lovers admire Uttarakhand for trekking and camping. So many dreamed of it, plan for it. So many people are earning from it. There are so many destinations in Uttarakhand which cannot be reached without a night stay. So many people like porters, helpers, mule operators, cooks, travel guides are earning from this business. The local people have started businesses for the trekkers. What about them???
    Well, the Hon’ble High Court wants the mountains clean. That is an obvious demand. Many Mountain regions are experiencing a growing solid waste problem because of expanding urbanization, tourism activities and illegal dumping practices, mining operators etc. It makes waste management more challenging in the mountain areas than other lowland areas. This is an ultimate risk factor in the environment and human health of the Mountain regions.
    But I don’t think that the ban on night stay at meadows and limiting the number of tourists’ visits will be the solution over solid waste problems. There are so many examples set by other countries which we can implement in our country. Just take an example of Nepal. Compared to India, Nepal has a large number of trekkers and mountaineers. But still they have managed to keep their regions travel friendly. They have set rules and regulations for waste management and they follow it.
    There are several other countries have beautifully solved the waste problems.
    • Columbia’s recycling solution – Put the Plastic for recycling and get a reward.
    • In Indonesia, people can trade trash for free health care.
    • Sweden has adopted a recycling policy which funnels all the energy generated by burning waste into the national heating network. This provides an efficient way to heat homes through the freezing Swedish winter.

    And so on….
    So, if the Hon’ble High Court really wants to keep the mountains clean then they should improve Waste Management Skills. They can charge from the tourists as a travel tax and implement the money for all cleanliness. They can hire local people to do that. They can fine tourists who are responsible for any wastage or harm to the environment.
    Banning stays at midnights and setting limitations on No. of tourists is not the solution. What exactly do they want? Do they want to ban wastage or do they want to ban tourism? If they want Mountains clean, then ban the solid waste. Set the rules and regulations. Implement the new ideas. Adapt the ideas from other countries. Only then it will be a pleasant place. There are so many eco-friendly travellers visit places and take good care of the environment. Why would they suffer?
    Our approach should always be positive towards things. Our focus should be waste management. Other countries are doing it well. Other people are doing it well. We just have to find a way, a solution to tackle this problem. And if we handle it positively, then there is no need to ban anything. Everywhere will be love and peace and ‘no waste’.
    Just pray to the Mountains…!

  34. This is just like overeating leads to stomach issue, ban the food.

    This is not a solution, just a quick evasion. The real problem is much bigger and needs much comprehensive solution. State Government needs to work together with organisations like IndiaHikes, which have noble intentions.

    I believe, people staying in hotels have a negative impact rather than the ones who camp, along with other solutions, state need to put a check on mushrooming hotels, dhabas and polluting vehicles.

    More damage is done by the activities in urban areas than trekkers.

    Anyway Green Initiatives would anyway undo the damage (if any), moreover trekking is linked to livelihood of so many people.

  35. Well, i am sad that i won’t be able to trek but i welcome the order. Why?
    In India, there’s no such thing as self-regulation. Left to the people, we will continue to litter the streets, break the red-signal, siphon-off the money, eve-tease, even rape, and of course, pollute the environment. We have always done that. Greed is the defining character of human race in general.
    Ban is a dirty word. Its politically incorrect in a developed world. But look at how rapists go scot free in our country. I have no doubt that if some of them are hanged, most will not repeat the crime out of fear, if not anything else. Like Dubai, maybe.
    I see no evidence that people at large in India can self-regulate. And a lot of evidence of people refraining from something out of fear of being punished.
    I think its a welcome step. There is only one point over there which can make some loose sleep, the ban on overnight stay. Well, maybe it hurts their business directly, that’s why.
    Please note, every time something is banned in India, from porn to staying overnight at bugyals, the same arguments start circulating. Loss to livelihood, need to self-regulate, being responsible, etc.. Everybody seems to conveniently forget that this is India, and not Manchester, where people stop and wait in a queue on auto pilot. Go see what is it that the watchman in your building is watching on his mobile phone and how is his brain processing that stuff.
    I think its a welcome step. I am sad about it, but being a responsible person, i have no choice but to support it. This is the only way things work in India.
    Having said that, i know that the vested interests will turn the tables very soon.
    Indiahikes, you should support it really.

  36. It is very sad to see that instead of promoting tourism , the government is trying to put a stop to it. Not only does tourism earn revenue for the government, livelihood of thousands depend on it. If tourism can be regulated properly and tourists/trekkers adhere to the rules and regulations and do not in any way spoil the environment, then there is no reason why the government has to put a stop to it. Hope the Uttarakhand government will reach out to the High court in this regard and the order will be revoked. An avid adventurer .

  37. To add to my earlier comment: I think people should commend UK High Court for some of the bravest rulings in the last 6 months. First they banned the rafting in Ganga. They banned construction within 2 miles of the lakes in lake district of Nainital. (which of course everyone opposed, for the obvious reasons).

    But the most iconic ruling came couple of months back, where they asked the Govt to consider every life form, birds, animals etc to have similar right to life as humans. Of course its not binding on anyone but goes to show just how serious/sensitive they are. Nothing happens on most days here in India, so its heartening to see some brave soul sitting there and taking these calls. It just shows that someone out there is not applying the “harm to humans” filter and genuinely considering the mother nature and trees and animals on their own merit. The earth is not a colony of humans, and the purpose and existence of nature is not to serve humans.

    Lastly, lets also talk about other things mentioned in the current ruling, shouldn’t we? Some good points there. Also, if i am not wrong, the overnight stay clause is just for Bugyals, so if you camps somewhere else, it will still be fine??

    1. You make an excellent point about going beyond the “harm to humans” filter. It’s really nice to hear someone say this.
      I wanted to respond to your last question. While the court order prohibits overnight camping in bigh-altitude bugyals, the actual implementation of the order is being done by the forest department which has gone in over-caution mode and stopped camping all together. I guess this part can be sorted through discussion with the forest department or a clarification from the High Court.

  38. I was on the train when I got the news and had to cancel my Borasu Pass trek. I hope the Govt takes adequate action as quickly as possible. This decision is one step forward and two steps backward.

    1. Hi Pratik! For now, hold onto your registration. Watch for a couple of weeks and then make a decision. December is still far away and we are expecting a modification to the High Court verdict at least on trails like KK where there aren’t too many alpine meadows.

  39. I did my kuari pass trek recently in Uttarakhand after that I wanted to do more Uttarakhand trek after seeing this order I am shocked by the high Court judgement trekking should be encouraged not stoped . I hope they change the order and soon all the treks in Uttarakhand function smoothly.

  40. DEAR SWATHI
    It is very unfortunate to know that trekking to Uttarakhand has been banned , this is very ridiculous as well .It is not going to yield any good for anyone. In this connection I agree with you. banning is not a wise solution,since it also concerns over the financial issue of the region. The beginners like us will be the worst losers by this verdict. Every place has its own beauty and importance. Many places will remain unseen. And court cannot kill the human right. Yes indeed , stringent action should be taken against the inconsiderate trekkers, dhabawalas, locals and trekking organizations who are carelessly spoiling nature.
    I hope every concern would be wise and reasonable enough to reconsider the decision.

  41. Hii
    plzz do tell us quickly
    because we have already booked the roopkund track
    and if these will be banned than we need to cnacle our train tickets…

  42. The Health of the Plains depends on wealth of the hills.. As a green lover n biologist at heart.. I thank IH for the steps taken to keep hiking trails clean but I also welcome the court order.. In name of trekking thr are groups n businesses that don’t have slightest respect for greens/ flora fauna included.. When biodiversity of a region is damaged it takes years decade’s to come back some go extinct.. Regulated tourism n teaching respective hikers the consequences of damaging the environment is key but alas.. How do you control rowdy tourists and money makers?? Mandatory environmental diploma courses for tour operators.. Briefing the hikers to respect nature.. I hope the court reviews its decision n implements certain strict regulation.

    1. As of now, it’s the treks with meadows on them – Roopkund, Dayara Bugyal, Kuari Pass, Kedarkantha and Phulara Ridge.

  43. Trekked to roopkund couple of years ago with Indiahikes. Conditions of bugyals was pathetic. This is a wake up call. I am from US and have done extensive trekking in the world including India. I am sure regulations will follow.

  44. The question isn’t just about the solid waste management. Some of the comments listed above, and regrettably lauded, ask why limit Tourism? Here’s why. Tourism brings in more people. And those people don’t come alone. Mules are needed to carry luggage, more food, more tents, equipment, which in turn means more people and livestock.
    Humans generate heat, livestock generate heat and METHANE – a very potent green house gas; here’s a link to a study about livestock methane emissions in US, but the principle applies here too: https://cbmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13021-017-0084-y

    Alpine ecosystems are very sensitive to climate changes – here’a another study on that – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274896439_Alpine_ecosystems_in_relation_to_climate_change
    Increased human (and livestock) activity invariable affects the local temperatures, and if allowed to continue unchecked will adversely affect these alpine ecosystems.

    I agree that there are more elegant solutions that outright trekking ban (which please keep in mind was NOT the intention of the court, but an artifact of the enforcement of the court order) – primarily because they are unsustainable in the long run. IH and other stakeholders should certainly explore other ways to preserve the Alpine ecosystem, but KEEP in mind that any solution MUST limit the number of bodies up in the mountains. Limiting tourists IS a good idea, however whether the figure “200” is too much or too little needs more research. Not to mention the fact that there is no time denomination given for this figure in the court order… 200 per day? per hour? per month?

    And as for the enforcement – those are local state officials doing the enforcement aren’t they? If the local forest officers don’t understand and implement the order correctly, whats the use in criticizing the court? Please include in your plans, an agenda to educate them about the scope of the order – which limits “overnight stay” and certainly not day trekking. Though I will admit without shame that I don’t really know how you will achieve this.

    Now to the overnight stay ban – the approach is certainly not right as it kills pretty much all treks longer than a day, but the intention probably is good. The court probably came to the decision to avoid creating another source of government corruption in the form of “overnight trekking permits”. And I am trying to defend the court here because they are trying to step in and save the ecosystem in the only way it is known to them. We have plenty of evidence that the courts are sensitive to the environmental plight of the these fragile ecosystems. But what else can they do other than give a blanket order like this? The judicial process itself goes on forever even without any decent “research committee”. The PIL was filed in 2014 and its already 2018 for crying out loud! And if they create another “committee” to assess the impact before passing judgement? add another 5 years and kiss the Bugyals goodbye.

    Whats the solution then? There isn’t one that solves both livelihood and environment conservation. Any solution that immediately addresses the livelihood of people sucks for the environment (wait on expert advice or draft a concrete plan. And the court can’t just approve a plan like that. assessment needs to be done on the feasibility/resources of the plan before approval). But since the world is pro-humans (and I don’t know if it could be anything else) that is the way things will go, by hook or by crook.

    So my long winded yelling cut short, yes do file the petition for some sort of ‘overnight permit’, but please please understand the complexities of addressing such problems, respect the court order for what its worth – there are some good point in it, and hope to god that the local government officials who will be in-charge of giving out permits are just as loving of their state/environment and don’t go around handing permits to any kid with a few bucks in his pocket.

    Yours, in excruciating pain over the mental state of our pro-trekkers(the sheer number of “oxygen” remarks in the comments is just horrifying)
    The Elitist ahole

  45. I think we could sign a petition and we have to discuss this with government and along with the other trek organization as well. At last then we should go for supreme court, if high court is not at all listening to our point. Im sure that discontinuing treks in uttrakhand will not going to solve the problem and yes its our planet and its our home where we cannot lead waste remain and create over there and everywhere. Cleanliness is the first and the best one that we all should do and its our responsibility.

  46. This is absolutely disheartening. Things like these need deep investigation rather than passing out a generalised rule. This definitely affects a lot of people who make a living out of tourism and trekking.
    I think the green trails act should be initiated by the Govt. and it should make stringent rules to maintaining the cleanliness of the mountains than passing out rules like these.
    Hope this passes and we can start trekking again in our Devbhoomi again.

  47. I am not very surprised with this order .I have been in Roopkund in may 2016 and shocked to see big permanent camsite created by big organisations..Almost like running a resort in the name of trekking. The govt cant allow permanent Campsite,it will have an adverse affect on environment . And coming to the point of garbage Taj group hotels are very neat and clean so will u allow to make them a exotic resort. I have known few persons who are doing trek for the last 30 year and they said since 2012 or so its pathetic .I thinh UK authority has completely ban trek because they have to formulate a proper policy as directed by High court. We have to give them some time .. Now my biggest worry is as 200 daily passes will be book in advance by Big Organisations and we common people has to buy the package trek at a very high pri e just like we cant book prime bunglow of corbett on our own .

  48. This. Is unfortunate to the trekking community,

    We have booked for har ki doon trek, on Oct 14th, should we cancel it?

    1. Hi Sathy, the Har Ki Dun trek will still run because there are no meadows on the trek. So don’t worry about your trek.

  49. Yes, trekking must be regulated but not banned completely. Many small organisations and individual groups do not take care and as a result whole community has to suffer, this is the lesson to be more conscious about ecotourism. Hope government take prompt action and parallely put strict restrictions against pollution.

  50. This is an insane order. India s only beautiful hill state banned. Is ban a solution. Not a well thought through order. Lost respect for the courts

  51. Duty bearers have to issue orders after taking actual stock of ground situation in specifics and orders should be in specifics. Blanket orders are often misused and I do not like it, but at the same time I would take a positive approach to find solutions.

    India hikes may be aware of these things, but just listing them for future course of action.

    I think first you should ask the Forest Department, the specific areas with land record references which are banned. You should also share with Government the other permanent structures in the banned areas, so that they can take appropriate action against them.

    There are Joint Forest management committees ( JFMC) check their rules and play an active role in formation of rules of Eco Development committees and committees itself . This experience is there in our country and at some places the community has been effective in conserving the nature and earning their livelihood.

    Its a long road ahead. Make an assessment of what it will take and I am sure there will be people who will volunteer to make contributions. Me being one of them.

    Present a white paper on the issue. All the best.

  52. I’m surprised and shocked to see how Indiahikes team is presenting it.
    Please go re-read the Judgement.

    Why don’t you appeal in Supreme Court instead of that you planning on online petition. An surprisingly urging people to believe what you are perpetuating.

    Be professional at the least.

    Dear readers look carefully. The reply to the comments are just against the judgement.

    Again WHAT IS THE JUDGEMENT???
    Did anybody read it???

    Again after reading the Judgement some expert comment will be —-the local people never took care in preserving the Flora and Fauna.

    For how long have been hill people depending on tourist for their livelihood??? THINK?? All my educated and intellectual friends out here. Think ??

    Yes today we are fast moving, don’t have time to think much. But at least give it a little time before believing anything just like that.

    If the mountains are so enchanting to us. If we love to go there. It becomes our responsibility to think good for the same mountains. It is not our home. It is home to the Natural Flora and Fauna. It’s their first right. We can’t Just claim what is not ours? This is not a big thing to any of us.

    The judgement says, “removal of permanent structures at high-altitude meadows, banning night stays, and limiting the number of tourists visiting the meadows to 200.”

    All readers —Can’t you still go and see the mountains. Can’t you just stay out of meadows and stay at other locations? Think????

    All readers —Can’t you do the trekking with this HIGH COURT judgement as well????

    What is all this,”END OF TREKKING IN UTTARAKHAND BY HIGH COURT.”
    Please stop this. Be professional

  53. Dear IH and Fellow Nature Lovers,
    Nice to see so much interest in trekking and in protecting our ecosystem.
    I am sure you all have read the actual order.
    If you read the order, looks like Hon’ble High Court is actually trying to do a lot of good to our ecosystem.
    The only contentious section is section 33 – E. Others are actually very welcome changes. I urge you to read it, if you have not already done so.
    Even section 33 – E is NOT banning trekking. It is only banning ‘overnight stays in bugyals.’ I reproduce it here for your perusal.
    <>
    So once this confusion and may be the wrong implementation of Hon’ble Court’s order by some overzealous government servants is over and things settle down, we will find that not only we can trek peacefully and happily, but our bugyals and ecosystem will be better protected.
    Hope the confusion and resistance to change settles down soon and trekking resumes in a peaceful, eco friendly manner.

    1. Hi Sanjay,

      We did read the order. I agree 33.E is the most contentious section.

      The problem is most treks in Uttarakhand can’t be completed in a day without camping.

      Thanks,
      Aditya

  54. Dear IH and Fellow Nature Lovers,
    Nice to see so much interest in trekking and in protecting our ecosystem.
    I am sure you all have read the actual order.
    If you read the order, looks like Hon’ble High Court is actually trying to do a lot of good to our ecosystem.
    The only contentious section is section 33 – E. Others are actually very welcome changes. I urge you to read it, if you have not already done so.
    Even section 33 – E is NOT banning trekking. It is only banning ‘overnight stays in bugyals.’ I reproduce it here for your perusal.
    <>
    So once this confusion and may be the wrong implementation of Hon’ble Court’s order by some overzealous government servants is over and things settle down, we will find that not only we can trek peacefully and happily, but our bugyals and ecosystem will be better protected.
    Hope the confusion and resistance to change settles down soon and trekking resumes in a peaceful, eco friendly manner.

  55. I am trek lover, and sad to see that High court has jumped the GUN!
    They seem to be getting into administration and controlling state affairs by not letting state govt or tourism depts. to regulate.

    Blanket ban is not a solution. Not sure based on what data did they take this step.
    Rather they should order state governments to take adequate regulatory measures to secure nature and allocate funds and create a regulatory body to handle this.
    These regulatory bodies can deal with trekking organisations to conduct the treks.

  56. India is very new to idea of holidaying, weekend gateways etc. In 80s and 90s vacations were spent at relatives home in different cities or visiting temples meant family deity. Now everybody visits every temple, fort, beach, plunges in the swimming pool to sip a drink, of course, most cant swim. then suspends
    in air for parasailing over the beach, cant recognize an animal or a plant but goes on a wildlife safari. Latest is trekking. India has more young population, so trekking will be a favorite.
    There are rules for wildlife safari, staring with allowing limited vehicles at limited time, for a fee, that goes to forest dept, you don,t get down from the vehicle. don,t litter in the forest. there is forest guide in a govt vehicle that takes you on a round of the forest. in the same way temples have their management and UNESCO sites have their rules.
    The gods knew us Indians very well, so have separate areas when they need’ me time’. Uttrakhand is Dev bhoomi. Vishu meditates in Kedarnath. Such areas have to be respected. India Hikes respects the geography but do all the trekking companies? Key word here is responsible tourism.
    Shiviji likes to rest and meditate in kailash. On kailash trek/yatra. the
    travelers accept all the rules and timings of Chinese govt. but when in India people feel free to litter.
    India Hikes follow responsible tourism. But why are there packets littered in the first place?

  57. Are we going to get any stay on this order? I am planning it on September 15th batch, So will the trek be opened by then?

  58. An overnight stay of group of individuals in the bugyals means – camping/ tent construction, food preparations, noise (even if regulated, could be damaging or of concern for wild life habitat) an most importantly waste management including the human waste (which by no means can be ignored). These aspects will have to be taken care of and answered if the Supreme Court is to intervene. Below points may be of some help:

    There is no reference in the order as to how many trekkers actually visit each season for Roopkund Trek in particular . Finding of one of the expert report says – In recent years there has been a sudden influx of
    tourism in the Bugyals. Report concludes by saying there is an urgent need to prepare a status paper on this fragile ecosystem and its major components so that a comprehensive conservation and management plan could be drawn for this area.

    Note that: (a) Expert Reports do not recommend ban on trekking (b) there is no rationale of allowing 200 tourists (it does not even state whether per day/ month/ season) and on what basis the permissions will be given (first cum first serve ??) (c) it is not known why the matter was not referred to National Green Tribunal (NGT) which has a circuit bench at Shimla and a principal bench at Delhi. NGT has a expert member who assists the judicial member and hence the matter like this should have been dealt by NGT.

    While groups like Indiahikes challenges the order or seeks modification, also remember that the counter-affidavit by Government may state that these are “interested parties” . If High Court has banned commercial grazing, where is a question of allowing “commercial Hiking”. Do note and take a call after consulting sr. counsels in the industry.

    Also note a very valid point being made by Mr. Pandurang Patil in his post. It is not judicial overreach, but such decisions are outcome of total apathy and failure of government organisations to implement sustainable development

    Regards
    Amit

  59. In June it was on rafting,now it is on camping in high altitude Meadows,what is next? I hope it will not be Char Dham yatra.

  60. This is halarious, it’s like cutting your body part of it is pains, instead of proper treatment.
    Have regulations in place, control currupt practices to control the environmental damages but don’t stop trekkers.

  61. I am now residing at Dehradun and so was much interested in the news item published
    in local media and debated here.

    You are correct in saying that ‘HC decision was harsh’ but a few points to ponder over by all of us :

    1. I do feel that HC order is in best interest now, as it is a Interim decision.
    2. Court cannot bring in regulations. They can only direct Govt to bring in Rules and Regulations, which is what has been done in this case.
    3. I think that regulations are lacking in Uttarakhand not only for Trekking but also for Adventure water sports. Many lives are lost every year. So, HC has banned such sports also earlier this year and asked Govt to bring in rules and regulations.
    4. So, give some time for Govt to bring in regulations and trekking will resume.
    5. I have myself seen that Meadows in Uttarakhand are getting destroyed not just by trekking
    but also by families residing in Dehradun who go to these places in week end, have food and fun and leave trash everywhere.
    6. Unfortunately, in our country, there is no self discipline in many of us and Courts need to step in to correct the situation.
    7. Being a Court, it cannot differentiate between ‘Good and responsible Trekking teams’ and ‘Otherwise’. So, the HC order is general and sweeping, as it should be.
    8. Going to Supreme court is not likely to yield positive result, as ground truth remains the same.

    But, I am sure that Regulations will be made by Govt soon, court order will be complied with and then Trekking will resume. India Hikes will conform to the regulations, as you practice the same, without Orders, I can vouch for it. A couple of months lost in trekking is acceptable if it can bring in sustainable long term benefits to all concerned.

  62. As a law student I completely agree with the stance taken by Indiahikes. Courts often assumes blanket bans to be the solution. However, they are only temporary. What we really need to keep our mountains safe is a comprehensive set of regulations to ensure that trekkers are allowed to camp out, provided they respect the environment. It is most certainly possible for man and nature to coexist as has been clearly taking place in Nepal. I urge Indiahikes to move a petition to ensure that the Apex Court reverses the High Court’s orders. This might be a time consuming process and if so, Indiahikes either individually or with other like-minded organisations must file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), under Article 32 or 226 as the case may be.
    My family has done more than five treks with Indiahikes and every single time we have had a wonderful experience. The Green Trails initiative is indeed laudable and must continue.
    Looking forward to more treks in Uttarakhand. All the best!

  63. The ban is extremely sad news for nature lovers.

    In Norway, one can go nearly anywhere you want. Outdoor recreation is established by law. You are free to enjoy the great outdoors and breathe in as much of the fresh air as you want – as long as you pick up your rubbish and show respect for nature.
    Isn’t that great and simple.

    A ban is going to affect nature lovers, tourism and responsible companies like Indiahikes. Hope it is revoked soon with proper regulations in place.

  64. This is not fair…. Country is moving toward Cleaner India and banning everything is not the solution….
    It’s Swatch Bharat and not PROHIBITED Bharat…
    Measurements should be taken to maintain this places, if possible government and Court should consult IH team as to how to achieve this.

    1. Hi Rajesh,

      Not yet. We’re waiting for more developments on this case and see if the order can be stayed/modified in some time.

      If this is not done, then we will give you another trek in the same timeline in Kashmir/Himachal Pradesh. I will suggest hold on to your travel/hotel bookings for now. If you want to book your flight/train/bus tickets, do it till Delhi so that you can route yourself to any of the northern states.

      Thanks,
      Aditya

  65. It’s really very sad. Our trekking to satopanth was planned for next week. We have planned so much and spent so much for this tour. And now because of this order, every thing just……. I was planning for this tour from last two years. After managing every thing including family……. Suddenly this ban… Punishment for someone else’s crime. Please, Supreme Court, cancel this ban, on the other hand, order for some regulations to follow. Hope you will do it soon. I

  66. This is so typical Indian government style of working. “We will not work , we will not manage, we will just ban so that we dont have to work. ”

    they should come up with some solution as banning is not the solution.

  67. This is an absolutely wrong action and totally agree with your article that trekking and entire tourism is critical for the Uttarkhan economy and regulation should be constructive and rightly enforced. A ban like this is never a solution.
    I support India Hikes and have been a part of the Roookund Trek and it’s green trail project and how it works towards a clean environment and sets examples for all other trekking groups to emulate.
    Hope the government and all associations work closely to seek intervention from higher courts to stop such wrong measures.

  68. I have been trekking with few organizations including IH during past 2-3 years and I have seen so much of improvement with respect to the trek management. Organizations have evolved and matured over the period of time. However, in the decades of pacing up economies and transitions, there is always a room for better and quick decisions.

    Coming onto the respected High Court of Uttarakhand order given on August 21st 2018 (Ref: TOI) as they have imposed a ban on all Uttarakhand treks, I do see some points which aren’t giving justice to not one but many aspects around trekking in Uttarakhand.

    Obvious to understand that this ban is turning up to bring a massive economic and social welfare loss.
    Booking made prior to the ban will bring frustration and grief among avid trekkers looking at either cancellations or change of plans, it will impact people not only from within India but also keen foreign traveler’s.
    Trekking industry in India is doing enormously great, the maturity we have developed in recent years, wasn’t there 10 years before, specially Indian trekkers who seem extremely delighted and active. The ban might bring us back to the past 10 years stage.
    Looking from the trek management perspective, the platform itself isn’t as simple as any management company policy. To first draft all sorts of precautionary measures, beginning from a porter to the trekker and then turning it into a practicality with safe environment protocols is a big big deal. With due respect in abiding by the authority and government laws. The ban may shatter the lives of locals to a trekker’s and to organizational teams, years of efforts, lively hood and huge network may blur down in a jiffy. Who would like to see this happening? At least, I don’t.
    I have seen and have myself learned to clean up trails, a self discipline in a person works wonderfully in the growth of a small town/region/state/country. IndiaHikes and other organizations have been scaling clean up with a lot of initiatives like  Green Trails around this. And now this would come to a hard stop !
    Something which shatters me as a trekker, are the least stringent measures taken on applying rules and protocols on travelling, adventure and treks. Responsible bodies must apply applicable LEAN methodologies and bring stringent measures. Bad part is at times nobody cares the other side.
    Some treks and just not simply treks, there are environmental and other scientific research around psychological aspects. Getting a fold on trekking will bring unimaginable research on mankind that teams up with nature will be broken. Even if it is for a short time.
    We see a huge loss for next 10 years by not modernizing and not investing in our only needed systems. When only we think about imposing a ban as one part solution, why not think about correcting something. Authorities must rise up all above this and it is good time to reinvest in thoughts in making better socio-culture meanings by adopting measures to drive trekking/camping by workflows and processes.
    Deep from the heart I feel, we all as trekkers/trek organizations/locals/ responsible bodies/High Court/ must come together and bring a strong and stringent draft on adventure sports altogether. Do not let a piece be missing from it.

    I’m sure we will see a better decision very soon in the interest of all of us who stand together in the interest of adventure sports and trekking.

    1. Hi Shalabh,

      I couldn’t have agreed more. The trekking diaspora in the country has seen some massive improvements in the last few years. As an organisation we’ve taken steps to counter pollution on trails and balance the ecosystem. We’re also ready to follow all the regulations to make it even more better.

      But a complete ban seems too extreme a step.

      Thanks,
      Aditya

      1. Hey Aditya,

        I just simply love the way IH operates and have been keenly looking at the wide variety of treks the organization has come up with in the recent years. I stand with you guys and do a ditto to what you have mentioned that it is to an extreme level. Looks like authorities need to work out a paradigm shift in order to listen and understand rightly on each and every person who work out in making adventure and trekking possible in the higher altitudes.

        Please do let me know if I can be of some help and be able to contribute.

        Regards,
        Shalabh

  69. Hope common sense prevails in the end. This is bizzare on so many levels. Tourism can be a major economic contributor. Look at a country like NZ. Literally runs on tourism.
    Regulation! Not elimination.
    Why can’t the state govt advise the national parks and forest dept to employ qualified rangers in hot-spots, who monitor the environment and penalize irresponsible trekking companies.

  70. Very sad to know about this court order & the way in which local authorities are interpreting & implementing it. Any wise soul will agree that Trekking is a very nature friendly & noble hobby. And is creating healthy habits & livelihood in the remotest possible places. Any problem needs to be dealt with required measures/controls with expert guidance. If there is infection in a part of body we treat that with right medication/surgery and not by killing/abandoning the person…..Why not in this case. Have right fines for violation of guidelines/regulators rather than stopping all trek lovers.
    On the other view, as a free country & citizen I guess I should have the right to go any place in this country as far as I’m not causing harm to anyone…!!

  71. I like some of the valid points made above by Narayan. Would like to add a few points.
    – We have all experienced how badly many trekkers (thankfully not IH trekkers) were abusing the bugyals. Plastic, thermocol, beer bottles, cigarette cartons, campfire remnants, loud noises ….. The list is endless. Trekkers (again not IH trekkers but many others) were indeed posing a great threat to bugyals and to the ecosystem. So in all probability, the Apex Court may not overrule the High Court order on this account.
    – As far as livelihood, keep in mind that Uttarakhand has Char Dham and the number of visitors to Uttarakhand are 3 crore per year. Number of trekkers visiting Uttarakhand are only around 2 Lakh per year. There is plenty of “livelihood” around even without trekking industry. So livelihood issue may not fly in the Apex court.

    – In my opinion, way forward for the Government would be to study and to learn from how Sikkim or Nepal is handling their treks. You see cleaner treks, green trails and much less litter. May be making a local guide compulsory will help (not trek operator guide who is on the payroll of trek operator but guide from local authorities). This will generate some extra employment and also keep trekkers in check. If there are any violations, this guide being an independent observer can report them to the authorities. If some litter is found and no one has reported it, the guide and the trek organizer both should be held liable and punished.
    – Just as the High Court has limited number of trekkers, number of trek operators can also be regulated. May be only 10 or 20 good and conscientious tour operators be given permit per year and they be held responsible for any litter or damage caused by their group. Again some checks and balances can be put to check the damage, if any.
    – We have come to this point where judiciary has to intervene simply because the legislative has failed to put in the right laws and hence the executive has failed to implement them. And sadly, several trekkers are just not conscientious enough or self regulated enough. So the judiciary had to step in to save our bugyals and the ecosystem.
    – So lets just hope that this order increases awareness at all levels – government, forest department, locals, trek organizers, trekkers ….. and each one takes the right decisions in their area and does what is best for the ecosystem.

    1. I completely agree with you. Even many organizations are encouraging permanent camping on bugyals which is not good for ecosystem. Please stop doing permanent tent pitching(I even mean same tent spot for more than month).

  72. As far as present interpretation and implementation of the Court Order by Forest Department is concerned, it is very clear that Forest department has misinterpreted the order.
    Order does NOT ban trekking.
    Order does NOT ban bugyal trekking either.
    It is only banning overnight stay in bugyals.
    So if we do trek by trek and camp by camp analysis of each trek, situation will be much clearer.
    If forest department has banned all treks, it can not do it for long because the Court is not saying any such thing.

    1. Hi Sanjay, it is true that the court has not banned treks per se. But most of the treks involve camping in bugyals to get onto higher reaches of the trek. We cannot directly enter the alpine zones without spending enough time and acclimatising at lower campsites (bugyals). For example, you cannot go directly to Bhagwabhasa (alpine zone) from the Ghaeroli Patal (forest) campsite on the Roopkund trek. Trekkers will have zero acclimatisation and are prone to AMS. This is just one example. Most Uttarakhand treks follow the same pattern, so we cannot do any of these treks. And also, the forest departments have withdrawn permissions to do any of these treks.

  73. I am sure swati u r from some preety much metro city where u have no clue and no idea how to maintain the natural ecosystem. I have read your entire article n its so nice to see people doing there job with such a dedication that they can even forget what is right or wrong. I guess, If your appraisal will depend on cutting down the trees i am sure you will write billion words that trees are also not gud for us…
    I am sure you or indiahike can answer – if 2 ppl are goin on trek and same time if 20 ppl are on the same trek, howcome is it releavant that smaller group make more dirt then bigger group. That actually vice versae in our mountains. More ppl more dirt more harm to nature. Anyways as i said above you are so much dedicated to your job and I really respect that. I wish u spend few days with the local in uttarakhand and see the way they preserve the nature.

    And I am very much surprise to see ppl above are liking ur article.

    Salute to u all.

    Proud to be a pahadi n wish u all could have stayed away from mountains. This ban was nt needed then.

    1. Hi Nikhil,
      I understand your exasperation about the mountains being littered by “city-dwellers” per-se.
      The thing you need to understand is not all city-dwellers are indifferent to these atrocities performed by our fellows. I take pride in being one and urge\compel my fellow trekmates to respect nature.
      This is exactly something that IH fosters. On every trek, in the briefing, chatting we’re always told not to litter and in-fact clean up other peoples mess.
      You cannot deny the fact that trekking actually does help the mountain-dwellers by creating employment opportunities and up their living standards a bit.
      Having said that, what needs to be done(and what IH endorses) is clean trekking!
      Limiting\controlling\disciplining is the way to go. That way man gets to enjoy, respect and preserve nature which is the right of us city-dwellers as well by the way!
      So one needs to vent their anguish towards the right set of people and not a community as a whole.
      Cheers mate 🙂

  74. I live in USA. Here when we go to mountains we are supposed to even carry our poo back in special poo containers. People do it gladly. specifically if you have a hiker lead who knows the rules and is thankful to the universe for the mountains. The point being regulation is needed . Not bans. Further , having lead hikers familiar with the rules as done by India hikes is what is needed to follow regulations

  75. It is very sad to hear that judiciary had to step in for the protection of Meadows, it’s a complete failure of local authorities & legislatives. The commercial activities must be regulated and strict regulation/frame work should be installed. Any way all the nature lovers and locals have to pay the price for the irresponsible trekkers. State govt has to take up the matter with the high court & supreme Court for allowing regulated trek. I also request IH to consult the local authorities & HC for regulated trekking in Uttarkhand.

  76. This is very disappointing for any adventurous person in India or outside India.
    Let’s proceed with the petition soon.
    Thanks.

  77. Sad to hear about the paint-brush order. While there are other methods to regulate trekking, banning it altogether is nothing more than over the top ‘judicial activism’. At the end of the day, (responsible) trekking is good for everyone and Indiahikes is a prime example. Many of my friends have been subscribers and have great stories to tell about the way they go about educating trekkers about the need to keep the mountains clean and also the way they enforce it.
    For the follies of a few, the courts have ensured that the livelihood and the spirit of adventure of many will suffer and most people will forever keep questioning the argument that Switzerland actually is just a pale shadow of Uttarakhand (UK) – now that no one will be able to see the real UK anymore.
    On fuzzy court orders, I wonder when will the day come when the distinguished jury learns to be clear and pass on executable judgments – In Karnataka a ban on dance-bars was happily assumed to be a blanket ban on all live music which resulted in loss of livelihood of small time musicians performing in even humble restaurants!

  78. Its really sad to hear court taking extreme steps. The trekkers number could have limited, illegal shops on the way could have banned and many other steps could have taken to control the number of visitors. Banning is little disappointing.

  79. Hi IndiaHikes…being a trekking community so well known for promoting trekking in India, why don’t you guys file a petition in court againt the ban as asking the higher court to ban use plastic and other waste materials on trek instead of banning all the treks in uttarakhand. Livelihood of so many pahadhi people is dependant on it. Please fight for those staff members because whom IndiaHikes has reached such heights(pun intended). Keep doing the great work.

  80. Blanket ban by govt is definitely not can be said to be in favour of anyone-whether trekkers, local communities, trekking companies or anyone. For sure environment and meadows need protection and safety from all kinds of pollution. People like us staying in cities also need to connect with our basic nature and values, so that’s why we love going to mountains or trek to connect with our basic selves. No one can lay a claim to the mountains that they belong to them only.
    Having said that, yes bigger organisations like IH and others can do better in keeping the environment safe rather than small unorganised groups or individual families as they are not repeatedly told to mend their ways. Court or govt can put stricter regulations as to no of trekkers per route per season or adoption/ sponsorship of welfare schemes for some local communities by these organisations.

    Hope things get sorted soon!

  81. Where the govt should be opening up places of recreation and healthy lifestyle, they are curbing it by such actions and misinterpretations of the law and to what end? If people would just behave responsibly in environment protection then the govt would not have to step in with misguided action plans.

  82. It’s bizarre to hear that the High Court banned trekking altogether. While I do understand that the reason could have been environmental conservation but the authorities should know better that majority of the trekkers that visit Uttarakhand genuinely care for the environment and consciously make efforts to retain the sanctity of the mountains. There must be an alternative to this- trained forest officials to monitor trekking activities in Uttarakhand could improve the situation for both the authorities as well the trekkers. It must be taken into account that a few organizations are in fact voluntarily helping to keep the trails clean.
    Trekking is a means of self discovery for many, bordering on spirituality; and it’s a means of livelihood for the locals. Such kind of irrational bans are a threat to both.

  83. I think, for the sake of local poor who earn their daily need as a MAZDOOR from the trekking — Local Administration should lift the total ban on trekking but with some restriction by today or tommorow or after some time more.
    So, I think you should not orried about.
    Better you as a Indiahikes think to reopen your green trail program and siultaneously think to do some think for the betterment of the local poor, like Medical Support , Educational Support & uplift their living standard Since no trekking can be successfull without active support of the local people.
    Once again >>> ban may not be continue for a long time it will going to be as before. We need to bear with the Administration for the time being.

  84. IH can get a stay on the ban by filing a counter In SC. Most of what the Petitioner cites in evidence is vague, exaggerated and alarmist, not really empirical. Any lawyer with some critiquing ability can dismantle the Petitioner’s argument easily.

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