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Ban on adventure sports may be lifted before September

Since participation in adventure sports activities gains momentum in September, after the monsoon break, operators are anxious about the losses they might incur if the ban is not lifted.

dehradun Updated: Aug 09, 2018 22:27 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news
Tourists, under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance, will not be allowed to go for rafting.  (HT File Photo)

After the state cabinet gave nod to the new rafting and adventure sports regulations on Wednesday, the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board said it was confident that the ban would be lifted before September.

CEO of the board, Dilip Jawalkar, said the high court had banned adventure sports in the state from June 22 due to the absence of a transparent regulation policy. “Since we have a policy in place, we are now in the position to resume the adventure sports activities. We are taking a legal opinion on whether we need to move the court for this. But, as per our understanding, the court did not require us to get an approval from it. It just wanted a framework in place, under which these activities can take place,” he said.

Since participation in adventure sports activities gains momentum in September, after the monsoon break, operators are anxious about the losses they might incur if the ban is not lifted.

“Even if we have to start from September, it will take us at least six months to get the volume of tourists back to normal...we have been getting queries from tourists but we couldn’t tell them when to contact us,” said Devendra Rawat, who owns a rafting company in Rishikesh.

The Cabinet has approved the amendments to river rafting policies, as per which vehicles carrying rafts will not be allowed within 100 metres of the river bank, a rafting technical committee will identify spots on both sides of the bank to facilitate entry and exit.

The new policy also mandates tourism department nod for allocation of government or forest land on riverbanks where rafting activities are currently not being conducted.

Rafting operators will have to display their fares on websites, brochures and receptions, stated the policy. Tourists, under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance, will not be allowed to go for rafting.

Operators, while welcoming the new regulations, sought proper implementation. “The changes made to the rafting regulations are a step in the right direction but government should monitor rafting activities... They should also involve local rafting operators...,” said Dinesh Kathait, owner of a rafting company in Rishikesh.

As per the new rules formulated for foot launch aero sports and paragliding, it will be mandatory to have a minimum 100 hours of flying experience in order to become a tandem pilot. “The chief trainer/instructor must have a minimum of 200 hours’ flying experience. He/she must also have a one-time experience of flying for 50 kilometres. A chief instructor must also be trained in paragliding safety course,” it stated. Technical and regulating committees have been formed to ensure proper implementation. The technical committee will also identify new spots suitable for paragliding.

Existing paragliding operators and pilots will be given two years to attain the required qualification. Provision has also been made for allowing each operator to use a minimum of two, and a maximum of 10, tandem paragliders.

Before the new regulations are implemented, it will be mandatory for paragliding operators to register themselves. It will also be mandatory for the operators to get approval from the state tourism department before venturing into paragliding business.

Standards for uniforms, safety equipment and age limit have also been set in the policy -- every paragliding operator will be required to set up an office, and ensure proper display of decided rates.

Each operator will be required to get every paragliding customer insured. The operator must also collect all the necessary information about the customer before they are sent for paragliding.

Paragliding operators of the state have welcomed the proposed rules. “The rules have been developed by taking suggestions from the paragliding operators in the state and show that the state is serious about considering it as a serious sport and sustaining it in the long run. Uttarakhand has the potential to generate 200 crore rupees every year just from paragliding, only if the progression is in the right direction and at the right pace,” said Subhan Raturi, a member of the Paragliding Association of Uttarakhand.

First Published: Aug 09, 2018 22:27 IST