New Delhi: Concern over the "looming threat" to flora and fauna in the eco-sensitive Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary from helicopter operations to fly pilgrims to the religious shrine there was expressed by an environmental group today, leading the green tribunal to seek responses from the Environment Ministry and Uttarakhand government.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) sought responses from the Environment and Forests Ministry, the state government National Board of Wild Life and others, on an NGO's plea raising concern over the looming threat to the flora and fauna due to regular operation of helicopters in the eco-sensitive zone in the state.
A bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, sought their replies by September 2.
The matter was mentioned before the bench prior to the commencement of hearing in the listed cases in the Tribunal.
A large number of pilgrims, intending to avoid the 16 km trek to visit the Kedarnath shrine in Rudraprayag district, opt for the chopper services to reach the destination.
NGO Doaba Paryavaran Samiti has contended that helicopter operations in this area for religious tourism has "seriously disturbed the eco-system and fauna of Kedarnath Sanctuary".
In its plea, filed through advocate Gaurav Bansal, the NGO has said that even a top forest official wrote a letter to the authorities citing the impact of helicopters over the sanctuary, forcing endangered species like musk deer and Himalayan Tahr (like wild goats) to abandon their habitat.
The officer has also stated that due to noise of the low- flying helicopters, the breeding of these endangered species has also been severely affected.
"The Conservator of Forest, Kedarnath Wildlife Division, Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand has also written a letter to the Van Sanrakshak, Nandadevi Biosphere Reserve, Gopeshwar and apprised him that no aviation company has taken consent from the authorities and hence are illegally flying over the sanctuary," the plea had said.