Uttarakhand High Court bans construction near glaciers in Uttarakhand

The Uttarakhand High Court has banned near glaciers in Uttarakhand and directed the state government to preserve the rapidly melting glaciers, a source of major rivers.
The High Court issued an order, taking notice of the degradation in the Himalayan ecology and environment based on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed on encroachment and illegal construction around various water bodies including the Nainital lake.
What is the issue?
The Himalayan state of Uttarakhand alone has 968 glaciers spread across an area of 2,857 sq km. These glaciers are a source of major rivers including the Ganga and the Yamuna. In recent times these glaciers are facing severe problem of rapid reduction in snow cover due to climate change and the melting of ice.
High Court order

  • No new permanent constructions must come up within a 25 kilometre radius from the edges of all the glaciers across the state.
  • Restriction on burning of fossil fuels within a 10 kilometre radius of the edges of glaciers. Complete ban on the use of plastic, in all forms, within a 20 kilometre radius of glaciers
  • State Government must provide the LPG and Kerosene Oil in abundance to the people living in these areas by involving Oil Companies to mitigate their hardships.
  • The entry of persons visiting the glaciers must be regulated and Chief Secretary of state must be the authority to issue “limited passes” for these visiting persons.
  • The State government can also impose a cess in the form of “Glacier Tax” on persons visiting places in the vicinity of the glaciers.
  • State administration must put up stations 20 kilometres from each glacier to ensure the enforcement of the Court directions.
  • Army and paramilitary forces are permitted to set up infrastructures but they too must consider the environment of the area before undertaking constructions of any kind.