Irresponsible trekking groups in Maharashtra to face action
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Irresponsible trekking groups in Maharashtra to face action

Leading trekking groups in Maharashtra demand severe action against money minded organisers; cops say person can be booked under criminal negligence

pune Updated: Jul 12, 2017 23:19 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
Overcrowded route of Peb fort, where two Mumbai trekkers were rescued after they survived a 200-foot fall(HT PHOTO)

In the last few years, incidents of trekkers getting lost, drowned or falling down a gorge is on the rise. Every monsoon, numerous cases are registered, especially on weekends.

According to the rural police, almost 15 people have died so far while 50 others were injured at various waterfalls and forts around Pune and Mumbai.Recently, two Mumbai trekkers were rescued after a five-hour long rescue operation from Raigad district after they fell 200 feet. On the same day, two trekkers drowned at the Devkund waterfall, Bhira in Raigad district.

Though, several trekking organisations voluntarily come ahead to help the victims of such tragedies, the ever increasing number of the incidents is already taxing their resources.

Therefore, organisations like Shivdurga Mitra (Lonavala), Yashwanti Highkars (Khopoli), Nisargamitra (Panvel), Pimpri Chinchwad Mountaineering Association, Giripremi (Pune) and Vaintaiya Trekking Institute (Nashik), who actively participate in rescue operations, have come ahead and decided to take some severe action to curb the number of incidents.

“We have observed that careless, irresponsible attitude of the trek organisers and trekkers, is the main reason behind those tragedies. These newly found commercial groups are least bothered about the safety measures. They just find attractive spots on Facebook or Google and then with the help GPS, they organise the trek. They don’t even consider the degree of difficulty of the trek, the ideal number of trekkers to take at dangerous places, and don’t consult with the local villagers, who are well versed with the area,” said Rohit Vartak of Shivdurga Mitra.

“Then, they contact the police after getting lost or in case of a mishap. As a noble cause, we voluntarily help those who are trapped, but now we are getting a feeling that they are taking us for granted,” he added.Therefore, these groups have now decided to take legal action against such trekking organisers.

“If we found that the incident has taken place due to ignorant approach of the organisers then a police complaint will be launched against them and their names will be out in the media. If any death occurs, then, the registration of that particular group will get revoked,” said Sachin Shinde of Nisaerga Mitra.

When asked under what article the police can lodge a complain in such cases, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime branch, Pune, Pankaj Dahane said, “It all depends on the particular situation. You can’t put all cases under one article. If the trek organiser is aware about the risk and danger, then it’s their duty to inform the participants. If he fails to do so and any mishap happens, then he might get booked under criminal negligence.”

However, the trekking groups feel that prevention is more necessary than taking action.“There is huge profit margin in organising treks these days. So, anyone with little experience forms a group and starts taking groups to beautiful yet risky places. I feel it’s the duty of parents to check the reputation and experience of the group, before allowing their kids to go for treks. Even beginners should avoid going with large groups as its impossible for the organisers to look after every participant,” said Shinde.

Checklist for City Trekkers

With commercial group

* Check if the group has several years of experience in organising treks

* Check if the trek leaders are experienced and have completed advanced mountaineering course, have knowledge of first aid

* Check if they have enough man power and resources to handle emergency situation

Going on your own

* Gather as much information as you can about the place

* Some places, which are safe in winter, become dangerous during the monsoon

* Avoid overcrowded places

* If you are visiting for the first time, take a local guide or villager

* Pay attention to villagers, follow their instructions and act accordingly

* Refrain yourself from taking selfies at dangerous places like edge of the cliff, waterfalls, slippery roads

First Published: Jul 12, 2017 18:41 IST