“Pavan paani dharati aakas ghar mandar har bani”, (Air, water, earth and sky are God’s home and temple), quoted the Uttarakhand High Court from Sikh’s religious scripture Guru Granth Sahib as it directed against free movement of tourists in the alpine meadows in Garhwal region of district Chamoli in Uttarakhand while ordering only local shepherds to graze their cattle there.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh also directed removal of all encroachment besides all plastic material strewn over the area.
The bench said so while disposing of a PIL moved by the Aali-Bedini-Bagzi Bugyal Sanrakshan Samiti for conservation and preservation of Bugyal (alpine meadows) situated below the area of Roopkund in Chamoli district.
The petitioner had also sought a direction to the Forest Department to remove permanent structure/construction of fibre huts constructed in the Bugyals’ area and also to stop the commercial grazing there.
It is to be noted that Bugyals/meadows are also considered as high-altitude grasslands or meadows situated in the hills, particularly in Garhwal region of Chamoli district below the peak of ‘Jyouragali’. The word ‘Bugyal’ in Garhwali basically means meadow and pasture land which exists above a certain altitude in the mountains also known as ‘Alpine Meadows’. The Bugyal area is primarily meant for grazing the sheep and goats. Roopkund is also situated in this area. Lohajung is the base camp of the well-acclaimed trekking for Roopkund.
Bugyal are also known as ‘Nature’s own gardens’.
The petitioner had also sought direction against overnight stay of the tourists in the local surroundings of Himalyan Bugyals and also for stopping the gathering of ‘Keera Jari’ (Yarsagambu, a medicinal plant).
The bench disposed of the PIL with following directions: