How safe are your vacation adventure sports?
Provider responsibility and risks have always been a cause for concern around adventure sports, most of which runs unregulated in the country
The safety standards of adventure sports in India came under the scanner again, after the fatal accident of a 12-year-old boy from Bengaluru, during paragliding at Bir Billing in Himachal Pradesh. Provider responsibility and risks have always been a cause for concern around adventure sports, most of which runs unregulated in the country. As per reports, after the mishap, Himachal Pradesh High Court ordered the verification of registration and licence of the organisers as most guides, operators and instructors have failed to meet basic safety requirements. “Many guides/instructors still feel that rules do not apply to them because they are far too experienced. There really appears to be no check or any periodic inspection of the staff, equipment, instruments, etc.,” the court noted.
However, paragliding organiser Praveen Kumar from Bir, who’s been in the business for 20 years says, “We are licence holders and provide full safety gear. There can be accidents but only minor ones due to client negligence. One instructor always accompanies them during the ride. Additionally, we take an undertaking stating that we won’t be responsible for any mishap.” He also emphasises that some are ready to compromise on safety as other organisers offer the same experience at a cheaper price.
River rafting is another popular adventure sport that has mushroomed over the years, especially in Rishikesh. Vipin Deshwal, an organiser from the city says, “We take all necessary safety measures. We don’t allow those under 14 to participate or those with medical issues. Moreover, we discourage those who have aquaphobia or acrophobia.”
Unfortunately, despite all the precautions, not everyone is convinced. Aakar Rastogi, 32, senior mutual fund analyst, Ghaziabad, decided not to try his hand at river rafting after witnessing the risks involved. “I have a medical history, and seeing how casual their attitude was towards safety precautions, felt like a violation to me,” he shares.
In an attempt to regulate this sector, Maharashtra Government, in 2021, approved an Adventure Tourism Policy. State Tourism and Environment Minister, Aaditya Thackeray says, “The policy is an attempt to streamline the activities by covering all the three mediums of adventure tourism — land, water and air. It will cover all tour operators that organise adventure tourism and means they will have to follow all the rules while organising tours for amateurs and tourists.”
Similarly, last year, the Kerala Government made registration mandatory for service providers in the adventure tourism sector.