It’s been four years since the 2013 Kedarnath floods caused widespread damage to the Valley of Flowers trek route, one of its bridges and the famed cobbled roads. Now, the government has restored the national park to its full glory and once again the protected park along with its 50 unique floral species was thrown open to the tourists on Thursday. However, this time the forest department has enforced a plastic ban in the entire valley and any violation would invite a penalty of Rs 10,000.
Until now, no penalty was imposed on those found littering in the area. However, the Uttarakhand high court in an order in November said the entire valley is to be declared a plastic-free zone. Only water bottles would be permitted with a security deposit. The number of tourists allowed in the valley has also been capped at 300 per day. The trek remains open for five months as it is essentially a monsoon trek.
The protected national park in Chamoli district with its pastel hues continue to be a cherished dream of many an adventurer and with the forest officials opening new routes in the area, they couldn’t have asked for more. According to divisional forest officer, Chander Shekhar Joshi, the park welcomed 77 national and 22 international tourists on the first day itself.
Last year, the Uttarakhand forest department had opened the Kunth Khal-Hanuman Chatti route after it was closed for over 45 years. This not only created a new trek route in the region, but also provides an alternate route for rescue teams in case of a disaster. Joshi said, the Kunth Khal bridge that is crucial to this route was severely damaged by the 2013 flash floods.