Policy Watch
Himalayan Alpine Meadows Trampled For Wedding Tourism

THE bugyals (alpine meadows) of Uttarakhand are a unique, fragile Himalayan ecosystem. They are a precious legacy of all Indians. In Marx’s words, we have a duty “to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations as good heads of the household.” Indian Governments, as always criminally short-sighted, greedy and careless are now busy destroying this ecosystem - in the name of “wedding tourism.”

The BJP government of Uttarakhand has permitted holding two extravagant marriage ceremonies costing Rs 200 crore and spanning over a week, at Auli near Joshimath - which is one of the rare sites of the bugyals. The weddings are of the two sons of businessmen Ajay Gupta and Atul Gupta, who have their empires spread from South Africa to Dubai to India - and who are mired in allegations of corruption and cronyism in South Africa.  

The Nainital High Court had last year passed a verdict ordering the protection of the bugyals, saying, “The bugyals are maintaining the eco-system. The damage caused to the eco-system i.e. bugyals is considered to be the key to global warming and melting of glaciers…There are world famous bugyals/meadows in Chamoli. The state government has not taken effective steps to conserve and preserve them. Construction of Fibre Huts in Bugyals is causing irreparable damage to the environment and ecology of the area... no camping activity should be permitted on these grasslands. The number of tourists visiting these Bugyals should also be restricted…”

But the same Nainital HC has this time permitted the the two weddings saying cancellation at “this belated stage may result in the marriage being called off causing irreparable injury to the family”!  The Court questioned the Uttarakhand Government’s decision to allow “mindless pursuits of holding large scale marriage celebrations at exotic locations.” It is truly strange and sad that the Court talks of “irreparable injury” to a super-rich family if they are forced to hold the weddings in some other place - while failing to implement its own order and prevent the irreparable injury to the bugyals.

The Uttarakhand CM has claimed that weddings will help the state by promoting tourism - this is a profoundly irresponsible and callous statement. Uttarakhand did not become a separate hill state so that its rulers would get a free hand to destroy the fragile hill ecosystem for big bucks.

Liberation Archive