camping near ganga
A camp site on a beach in Ganga.Wikimedia commons

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday issued a set of directives meant to save the already polluted Ganga.

Using plastic, throwing untreated waste and camping on Ganga beaches from Gaumukh to Haridwar have been prohibited.

The white sand beaches from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh will no longer be a tourist destination as the ban on camping which was implemented in August has been upheld.

"This is a big blow for us. During peak season, we get around 35 to 40,000 tourists every week especially during weekends from neighbouring places like Delhi, Punjab and Haryana. If licenses are not renewed, it would mean a loss of around Rs 50 to 70 crore for all of us," Kiran Bhatt, President of the Indian Association of Rafting Outfitters (IARO) told TOI.

Although rafting is allowed, camping isn't .

A committee has been set up to frame policy on capacity building in the area and to identify sites for camping. The committee has to form the report in three weeks and the NGT has to respond to it in three weeks.

"We are somewhat satisfied with the NGT's decision as we wanted regulations and guidelines to be put in place for these beach camps which have mushroomed in the stretch from Rishikesh to Kaudiyala flouting all environmental norms," Vikram Tongad, founder president of NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE) -- which filed the original plea regarding the ban on camp sites in Uttarakhand with the NGT, told TOI.

OTHER DIRECTIVES

The fresh directives from the NGT will hold officers personally responsible if the regulations are not upheld.

A ban on use of plastic in the cities and on the banks of Ganga has been issued. Jute bags, paper plates and cups will be provided by the textile industry.

A fine of Rs 5,000 per day will be charged starting 10 March for throwing untreated waste in the river. Hotels near the river that have not installed sewage treatment plants would be shut down.

Industries that have not taken permission from the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board (UKPCB) and are "seriously polluting" units will also be shut down.

Also, the Central and state governments have been asked to upgrade the existing sewage treatment plants.

Merchandised river bed mining has been banned as well, permitting regulated mining only in particular seasons.

The NGT has declared 100 metre area of the River Ganga as "eco sensitive and prohibited zone," reports The Indian Express.

It has also pulled up the Uttarakhand state government and The Ministry of Environment & Forests for not forming the flood plain map yet.

The state government and MoEF has been given three months to come up with a plan as well as curtailing all activities on the beaches of Ganga.