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Uttarakhand to restrict tourists in eco-sensitive zones

Shishir Prashant / Business Standard / New Delhi / Dehra Dun May 03, 2010, 0:27 IST

Gangotri, Valley of Flowers and other highly eco-sensitive zones of the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand may be becoming hot sites on the tourist map.

But the Uttarakhand government now wants to put up more restrictions on travellers in order to protect the precious biodiversity of the Himalayas, including the glaciers. According to a rough estimate, thousands of pilgrims, who visit the hill state during the Kumbh, Chardham and Kanwar and other religious congregations, travel to these areas leaving heaps of non-degradable waste, including plastic, which are hazardous to environment.

After the Centre decided to ban two key hydropower projects – the 480-Mw Pala Maneri and 381-Mw Bhaironghati in the Bhagirathi valley last month to protect the biodiversity of the region, the state government has now decided not to allow tourists to come near Gaumukh glacier, the origin of the Ganga in Uttarkashi district. The Gangotri National Park authorities would now put up sign boards and erect fencing just 500-metres before the Gaumukh to forbid tourists from trekking beyond. [more]