Proposal to open booking counter at Kedarnath for helicopter services 
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Proposal to open booking counter at Kedarnath for helicopter services 

Aiming to crack whip on touts, the tourism department has mooted a proposal to the civil aviation department to open a counter at Kedarnath to help pilgrims book helicopter for their visit to the shrine

dehradun Updated: Mar 08, 2018 21:25 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times
There is also a plan to make booking online so that people could get fair price deal, say officials.(HT Photo)

Aiming to crack whip on touts, the tourism department has mooted a proposal to the civil aviation department to open a counter at Kedarnath to help pilgrims book helicopter for their visit to the shrine.

In September last year, pilgrims were stranded in Kdedarnath and its nearby places in Rudraprayag after the Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority (UCADA) suspended copter services of all nine aviation companies owing to non-compliance of National Green Tribunal’s directions.

The government’s crackdown came after the helicopter services ignored several notice for submission of detailed report on “flying above 2,000 mt from the ground level” as directed by the green tribunal.

This had caused problems to the pilgrims who had made bookings and were unable to board their flights. To address this issue, the tourism department has sought permission from UCADA to allow them to offer a counter at Rudraprayag from where pilgrims, could do bookings.

The objective is also to facilitate pilgrims who are often duped by touts.

“We want a system in position wherein we could keep check on touts who offer high prices to pilgrims in case of emergency. Our counter would help pilgrims in doing online bookings,” secretary tourism Dilip Jawalkar said.

There is also a plan to make bookings online so that people could get fair price deals. And most importantly, all this could remain under the scanner of the government.

“The online system would help the government in keeping a tab over price offered by the aviation companies,” Jawalkar added.

There were nine aviation companies that were given nod to fly to Kedarnath from nearby areas in the district.

Kedarnath Valley is environmentally highly vulnerable.

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) -- in a report to the NGT -- had said choppers were flying as low as 150 metres which causes massive noise pollution of 70-80 decibels.

The report came following a study which was conducted after a PIL was filed with the NGT seeking aviation policy in eco-sensitive zones like Kedarnath.

Helicopters have become a preferred mode of travel for many pilgrims who do not want to trek through a treacherous 16-km route between Guptkashi and Kedarnath.

Chopper services also gained popularity after massive flash floods in 2013 that killed over 5,000 people.

“I am on leave and can’t comment about the proposal. However, if it’s in the benefit of tourists, then we would take best possible action,” said R Rajesh Kumar, additional secretary civil aviation.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 21:25 IST