The 36-kilometre stretch on the banks of Ganga, near Rishikesh, is devoid of the thousands of rafting enthusiasts, who throng the silver beaches during this time every year. Thanks to the state government, which is yet to grant camping permits for rafting on the rapids, business of the 50 rafting companies have been hit hard.
The Indian Association of Professional Rafting Outfitters (IAPRO), a body of the rafting firms, said that the delay is due to the forest department’s plan to implement a new policy on issuing licenses. “Without taking our suggestions, the government wants to auction camping sites and even wants a share of 20 per cent in the turnover. Earlier, a security deposit and fixed rental were required for getting a license,” said a Rishikesh-based operator.
However, Principal Secretary (Forest) SK Das said the delay in issuing permits was due to the failure of the rafting companies to comply with the decision taken by the Cabinet on the issue.
The IAPRO, on the other hand, said that it had no problem with the new policy but was only resentful of the timing of the move. “A new policy cannot be implemented 15 days after the season begins. The government should have taken us into confidence before the season started,” said Vaibhav Kala of IAPRO.