After facing huge embarrassment on the arrest of JCT Mills chairman Sameer Thapar and his 15 other friends earlier this year, the Uttarakhand Forest Department has issued new and strict guidelines for tourists to book guest house. Thapar and others were arrested with arms and other prohibited items from Kolhuchaur forest rest house of Lansdown forest division in district Pauri on 31 December 2016. Thapar and others were released on bail recently.
In a 9 January 2017 circular, Meenakshi Joshi, Conservator of Forest (Shivalik circle) issued 29 guidelines fixing responsibilities of both tourists and forest staff.
The new guideline puts a ban on carrying any arms and ammunition as well as cooking and consuming non-vegetarian food in forest rest houses. Even cooking and serving food outside the designated area is not permitted.
Tourists are also banned from carrying their pets in the guest house. Smoking and using alcohol has also been barred. Even a dress code has been imposed which states that visitors will have to wear dresses that sync with the forest. Further, a complete ban has been put on use of loud speakers and DJs. Tourists will also have to furnish details about their vehicle in the applications.
Besides the above, forest staff has been asked to obtain photocopies of visitors' ID proof . Forest staff can also raid guest houses to ensure that visitors are not carrying any banned substances. Even the checkout time has been fixed to 11 am. The forest department also holds the right of cancelling reservation without assigning any reason.
The Shivalik Circle of the Uttarakhand Forest Department has dispatched the circular to forest officers of Dehradun, Haridwar, Kalsi and Lansdown region.