Two accidents at the stunt-fed opening of the Great Adventure Mall in Greater Noida on Saturday — one of them fatal — raises an important question — how safe are adventure sports in Delhi?
In the mishaps, a 26-year-old bungee jumping instructor, Shailendra Kumar Bisht, fell to his death while rappelling down the walls of the mall, while actor Sayali Bhagat suffered a hairline fracture when the jeep she was in, overturned.
Adventure sport trainers feel that nothing can go wrong if safety measures are in place, but sometimes, even experts overlook the obvious.
"I was taken aback when I realised that the accident took place while rappelling, which is generally very safe unless the rope ends before you touch the ground. Then, it can be dangerous. When I saw the video, I saw that the rope had finished much before the ground level. In such a sport, there’s always a second rope called the belay rope that is used for safety. In the video, I could see that the person did not have a second rope or the belay rope. Adventure sports are risky and if one ends up missing out on even a single precaution, accidents can happen," says Sanjay Gupta, who runs the Youth Adventure Club at the Ramjas Sports and Mountaineering Institute.
Richard McCallum of Flying Fox, which organises ziplining and other aerial adventure tours, says, "Our safety standards are very high. Our zip lines are designed by Swizz engineers, the safety equipment is imported from France. The installations are inspected everyday and conform to the latest European standards. However, adventure activities do involve risk, but then that’s the case with driving or walking as well."
The president of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India, Tejbir Singh, insists that Indian adventure sport organisers are not careless, and these two were just freak accidents: "It is wrong to say that one freak accident can lead to questions on the entire industry of adventure sports. This will lead to fear, and people will cancel their adventure sports vacations and withdraw their children from these courses. In India, we are at par with international standards, and Indian mountaineers are one of the strongest in the world."
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