Administrative authorities in India's Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh states have reportedly started imposing fines of up to INR 5,000 ($67 approx.) as well as a week-long jail sentence for anyone found violating COVID protocols.
Each batch of people can spend no longer than half an hour inside the waterfall region, Shrivastava said while revealing that check-posts are being set up in the region to monitor tourist activities.
The decision comes after videos showing several people bathing together in the Kempty Falls, flouting social distancing, emerged online.
Kempty Falls, Mussoorie today. pic.twitter.com/5tbZlQpUPB— Sangha/ਸੰਘਾ/संघा (@FarmStudioz) July 8, 2021
Similarly, the state administration of Himachal Pradesh has warned people of legal consequences if they are found loitering around without masks or found at mass gatherings.
Activists in the States have also expressed concerns over a sudden rise in pollution and garbage in the regions that reached the mountain states along with the tourists.
Environmentalist Anoop Nautiyal from Uttarakhand told Sputnik that the travellers are not only bring fears of a COVID outbreak, they also litter and destroy nature.
"They come here to enjoy the peace and fresh air that comes with being close to the nature, but they bring along plastic and pollution to the regions. It is heartbreaking to see garbage thrown around. People can at least put dustbins installed around to good use. The authorities must ensure that cleanliness is maintained in the region during these times of tourism influx," Nautial said.
This is the curse of plastic that our beautiful hill destinations in #Uttarakhand are facing. Pic by Rahul Chandel from Queen of Hills, #Mussoorie.— Social Development for Communities Foundation (@sdcfoundationuk) July 8, 2021
Calling out companies to come forward and address this mounting crisis of #plasticpollution in the mountains. Time to act! pic.twitter.com/nBjJ2im1D3
Many people in India, after having struggled with COVID as well as brutal summers, are heading to the mountains, forests, and beaches for some relief.
Chairing a high-level meeting on 8 July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also told his Council of Ministers that watching "people without masks at crowded places is not a pleasant sight". He told the ministers that the photos and videos of people crowding should instil a sense of fear among people.