SSB halts rafting on Kali river due to ‘security reasons’
The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) that conducts patrolling along the India-Nepal border has said rafting activities would not be allowed on Kali river that forms natural international border between two nations in Pithoragarh district. After the order was issued, a group of tourists had to return from Pancheshwar without doing rafting.
The river flows from Nepal and enters India through Pithoragarh. The river stretch between Pithoragarh - Champawat emerged as the paradise for rafters in the past few years.
The Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) that conducts training programmes for the local youth in rafting under the Border Area Development Programme has said they were also analysing the order and would be talking with the government.
TS Martoliya, general manager of KMVN, an agency of the state government promoting tourism in the Kumaon region, said rafting was held on Kali river by private operators since 2005, but now the SSB has cited security reasons to stop the activity.
“The SSB officials have said the permission would have to be taken from the ministry of external affairs for this as it is an international issues as the river forms the international border between India and Nepal,” he said.
District magistrate C Ravishankar said he was aware of the matter and would be asking SSB officials to tell about the details of the order after which the government would be apprised of the matter so that tourism was not hit.
Rafting is also conducted on Saryu river on Pithoragarh, Bageshwar, Champawat border but this activity has not begun this year due to shortage of water flow in the river.
Ganesh of Red Chilli Adventures that operates rafting on Kali river near Pancheshwar said there were 8-10 rafting companies in Pithoragarh and their businesses were hit by the order.
“We already have permission from the tourism and forest departments and why is the SSB interfering in the matter when there is no war like situation or dispute at the border,” he said.
Political observers are relating this action of the government to the recently sworn-in government of Nepal might have pressured India to do so.
“The Maoist government headed by KP Sharma has always been opposing India and trying to derail normal relations between both the countries,” said LL Varma, a retired professor of political science.