The death of Mumbai trekker Richard Joseph Khear, whose body was retrieved nine days after he fell into a gorge near Castle Peak, has led the Himachal government to issue fresh guidelines for the safety of adventure sports enthusiasts venturing the hills.
Under the guidelines, it will be mandatory for the adventure sport lovers to get themselves registered at the nearest police station or check post. Besides, the government will make it mandatory for trekkers to provide complete addresses and contact numbers of their near and dear ones.
Special secretary, state disaster management authority, DD Sharma said, “Guidelines are being issued to pilgrims and tourists to not venture into rivers and risky areas. They must be provided basic do’s and don’ts and the latest information about weather.” He added that the district administration had been asked to warn tourists about the hazards of visiting tough terrains.
“The government has also asked foreign embassies to provide information regarding safety measures to tourists coming from their respective countries,” Sharma said.
Besides death, the disappearance of trekkers continues to raise concerns in the state. Since 1991, as many as 21 foreigners have lost their way while trekking in the hills of Parvati, Manikaran, Naggar and Manali areas, which attract thousands of foreign tourists every year. Of these, four were Australian and three were American and Israeli nationals each, two each were from Switzerland and The Netherlands, and one each from Yugoslavia, Ireland, Britain, Canada, Russia and Italy.
In 2012, two French trekkers - Valentin Marcel Gorges (20) and Francois Xavier Camille (21) went missing in Dhauladhar mountains that overlooks Dharamsala town. The two remain untraceable till date.
On August 9, a Poland trekker Bruno Muschalik (24) went missing from Manikaran. The efforts of the police to track him have failed so far. Besides trekkers, many paragliders and rafters have also died in the state during their excursions.
The Lahaul-Spiti incident once again raised questions about the government’s preparedness in rescue operations. It took the government nine days to reach Richard. Efforts of mountaineers from the state’s Atal Bihari Institute of Mountaineering, Manali, to rescue Richard proved futile as they lacked the technique to descend steep hard rocks in high altitude area. With no rescue teams in place, the government had to finally seek help of army that finally retrieved Richard’s body.