New Delhi, Oct 25: To curb ecological degradation of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary due to helicopter service for the pilgrimage, the Uttarakhand government on Wednesday informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it has started ground survey for construction of a ropeway. The Tribunal, in September, suspended the helicopter services that aid the pilgrimage but fly over the wildlife sanctuary and thus impact the ecology of the region. The state government has filed the affidavit after the NGT sought clarification from the state over its stand on the report by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), saying helicopters in the Kedarnath Valley were flying at an altitude as low as 150 metres, thus increasing noise levels to 70-80 decibels.
The permissible levels is 50 decibels during day, essential for a protected and ecologically sensitive area like the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. The state government told the NGT that the Tourism Ministry is conducting a "ground survey" for the purpose of construction of the ropeway and the "report will be submitted to the Tribunal soon". The Tribunal earlier issued notice to the state government following a petition from NGO Doaba Paryavaran Samiti, that pointed out that unregulated and low flying of helicopter over Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary impacts the wildlife there. The petitioner also stated that WII in its final report has requested the Uttarakhand government to shift the helipad which is near to Kedarnath Shrine. The Tribunal has fixed the next hearing for November 21.