Order of the High Court of Uttarakhand regarding preservation of the eco-sensitive Doon Valley, Uttarakhand, 06/09/2023

  • 06/09/2023

Order of the High Court of Jharkhand in the matter of Akash Vashishtha Vs State of Uttarakhand & Others dated 06/09/2023.

The matter related to the preservation of the eco-sensitive Doon Valley and to prevent its degradation.

The policy of the state appears to be only to commercialize the hills and to generate more and more revenues by permitting commercial activities. There is very little emphasis on actual preservation and protection of the environment. "The State appears to be completely insensitized and blind to the enormous environmental degradation that the entire State – and not just the Doon Valley is suffering. No wonder, the State is urging the MoEFCC to repeal the Doon Valley Notification in toto,' the bench comprising Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal said.

The High Court of Uttarakhand directed the state to formulate the Tourism Development Plan and to seek approval from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change within four weeks. The state should also comply with all other obligations cast upon it in the Doon Valley Notification, as amended on January 6, 2020. "Under the Doon Valley Notification, as amended, the approval of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is a must before starting any mining activity in the Doon Valley," the order added.

Uttarakhand was also asked to submit an affidavit on whether it has made a corresponding statutory rule in the state, which requires that any license, for carrying out any mining activity within the Doon Valley would be issued only after the approval of the MoEF&CC. The state should also prepare a  plan for grazing and get the same approved from the MoEF&CC.

The High Court directed the Union of India to file an affidavit disclosing its position with regard to the implementation of the Doon Valley Notification as amended on January 6, 2020, and the "fate of the request made by the state government for repeal of the Doon Valley Notification" as amended in 2020. The Centre was also directed to disclose the status with regard to consideration of the Integrated Master Plan submitted by the state on April 24, 2023. The High Court warned that in case the order passed is not complied with, the Chief Secretary, Uttarakhand will remain present before the court personally on the next date, October 10, 2023.