Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Friday, March 1, 2024

Helicopter ride in Kedarnath region posing threat to wildlife

 Dehradun (Uttrakhand): As if the unchecked flow of traffic to the serene environment of this high altitude area was not enough to pose a challenge for the habitat and the fauna that a new dimension in the form of uncontrolled air traffic to chardham yatra is added to cause greater misery to the wildlife in the higher reaches of Himalayas in the region.


Rare butterflies found in this area have also dispersed resulting in adverse effect on pollination

Rare butterflies found in this area have also dispersed resulting in adverse effect on pollination


The helicopter ride to the Chardham pilgrims is severely impacting wildlife of higher reaches here, fear experts.


This fear is not without a basis as the findings of an observation conducted by the state forest department regarding the impact of air traffic on the wild fauna of the area is really disturbing and is bound to create ripples amongst the environmentalists and the wildlifers.


The observation report was kept under wraps for reasons best known to the officials concerned, the startling disclosure was made through a RTI query recently.


As per information obtained by this query, helicopter services in this area for religious tourism has seriously disturbed the eco-system and fauna of Kedarnath Sanctuary in Chamoli district of Uttrakhand.


The Deputy Conservator of Kedarnath Wildlife Division, Gopeshwar on 22 May 2013 wrote a letter to the higher authorities citing the impact of helicopters flying over the sanctuary. The letter clearly states that the helicopter flying has forced endangered species like Musk Deer and Himalayan Thar to abandon their habitat and move to other places.


This is not all, as even rare birds like Monal and Bearded Vultures have abandoned the sanctuary, points out the letter.


Drawing attention of the authorities, the letter states that due to noise of low flying helicopters the breeding of these endangered species has also been severely effected.


Also, the rare butterflies found in this area have also dispersed resulting in adverse effect on pollination of vegetation.


There is apparently no rule in place to check the flying height of the helicopters and due to which on several occasions helicopters are seen flying barely 100 metre above the sanctuary.


The helicopter flight route for Kedarnath shrine is above Malla Kaliphaat block of Ukhimath Range of Kedarnath Wildlife Division. This area is very close to Tungnath forest where even now Musk Deer, Himalayan Thar, Monal and Himalayan Bearded Vulture are seen.


In view of the facts highlighted by the forest official, it certainly is high time that a comprehensive scientific study is carried out to gauge the effect of air tourism and to issue subsequent guidelines for fixing issues like height for the flying helicopters.