Srinagar Garhwal: The fast evolving river rafting tourism in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand attracting large swarms of tourists to the valley has been less gain and more trouble. The emerging trend of river rafting in the Himalayan rivers and beach camping is not only a threat for the ecosystem, wild animals and forests but the locals are also inversely affected by the practice. A report prepared by the experts in this regard has been published in the prominent Science Journal. 

A team of Dr RK Maikhuri, Nihaal Farukhi and Tarun Budhal at the Govind Ballabh Pant Himalayan Environment and Development Institute (GBPIHED) carried out a research on the beach camps located between Kaudiyala to Rishikesh.

In addition to the survey, the experts also took into account the data of the forest office Muni-ki- Reti and Tourism Department in the study. According to the report, between Kaudiyala and Rishikesh, river rafting and beach camping is organized at Shivpuri, Singtali,Brahampuri, Bijni, Malakunthi, Palliyalgaon, Kaudiyala, Jhald Tok, Neer Gaddu and some private spots too.

The study revealed that during beach camping and river rafting, the government norms and wildlife conservation standards are undermined amid monetary gains and fun quotient.

Dr Maikhuri said, “The study was to look into adherence to proper sewar system and government standards”.

He said, generally a camp has five to ten toilets which are away from the camps but near the river and therefore all the human excreta is released into the river. Moreover, bigger trouble lies for the wild animals as they come to the rivers for rest and drinking water. Also, with increased human activity in the camps and in the forest areas, the wild animals are fleeing to densely populated areas.

It is to be noted, the number of monkeys and langoors is on the rise in the camp areas. Also, woods used for the campfire are gathered from the forests.

The experts claim, since the Forest department charges hefty fee for providing a license for the camps, the camping companies enjoy undue freedom. 

According to the experts, the new tourism trend provides direct and indirect employment, boosts infrastructure and popularises the area on the tourism map. However, traditional chores and agriculture, traditional food have taken a backseat while student fallout from schools, nuclear families, excessive commercialization and migration have become a common phenomenon.

GBPIHED Director Maikhuri said, “Lack of proper sanitation facility, safety of forests and wildlife is the biggest problem here. The study also focused on the movement of the wild animals and their numbers. However, the locals do not benefit much as most of the people are from other states in the profession.”