Illegal operaters, lack of vigil a major threat for rafters in Himachal | punjab | regional takes | Hindustan Times
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Illegal operaters, lack of vigil a major threat for rafters in Himachal

In the past few years, a number of people have lost their lives in rafting incidents. Ill-equipped raft operators, lack of government vigil is putting tourists’ lives under risk.

punjab Updated: Apr 01, 2018 13:17 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
The adventure sport is held on the Sutlej and Pabbar rivers at Tattapani, Sunni and Rohru in Shimla district, on the Beas in Kullu, the Ravi in Chamba and Chandra in Lahaul
The adventure sport is held on the Sutlej and Pabbar rivers at Tattapani, Sunni and Rohru in Shimla district, on the Beas in Kullu, the Ravi in Chamba and Chandra in Lahaul(HT File)

The death of a 62-year-old tourist from Pune while rafting on the Beas river in Babeli near Kullu has once again raised concern over the safety of the rafters in the state.

In the past few years, a number of people have lost their lives in rafting incidents. Ill-equipped raft operators, lack of government vigil is putting tourists’ lives under risk.

Need to devise mechanism to regulate the business

So far the administration has failed to regulate the water sport in the state. With the latest incident on Thursday, operations by the rafting companies is once again under the scanner along with the authorities which grant license to such companies without ensuring adequate measures for the rafters safety.

“However, the tourism department that is responsible for issuing the license to raft operator claims to have proper norms and a committee which includes officials from the district administration, tourism and police department to keep a tab on raft operators in the state. Still the illegal rafting business is mushrooming in the state. Even tourism department has been receiving such complaints,” confirmed an official.

“Tourism department has set some norms and only those fulfilling the conditions are allowed to conduct such activities,”said BC Negi, Kullu district tourism development officer (DTDO).

We check the infrastructure and one service provider should have at least two rafts, he said, adding, “These rafts and other safety material is usually checked by the officials to ensure the standard.”

But in Kullu district, besides over 200 registered raft operators, some illegal raft activities are on. “Whenever we receive any such complaints, we seize the rafts and other infrastructure,” he added.

He also said if any registered raft operator is indulging in the violations of norms, he would seize to operate.

However, these claims do not stand tall in front of the ‘illegal’ activities.

“Not only in Kullu, Mandi and Shimla districts also have licensed as well as unregistered raft operators. No tourist as well as locals ask for the license before using rafts,” said a district administration official, requesting anonymity.

Basic norms for raft operators
  • Two rafts with standard quality
  • Availing life jackets to all the rafters
  • Trained, skilled operators at the raft
  • Only 5 rafters with one guide at a raft
  • Activities on identified sites only
  • No rafting after sunset
  • Clear a test to avail the license

In Shimla’s Sunni, rafting activities are on in raging Sutlej river. “Many of them are not registered. They have purchased a vehicle, two rafts and employed 2-3 youth. They charge Rs 500 to Rs 700 per head and also get a paper signed holding rafters responsible for any mishap,” an officer said.

Sometimes the rafting operators resort to overloading with the consent of tourists, pushing them towards danger. Violating norms, the rafting activities are seen even after the sunset, especially in Shimla and Kullu district.

The adventure sport is currently held on the Sutlej and Pabbar rivers at Tattapani, Sunni and Rohru in Shimla district, on the Beas in Kullu, the Ravi in Chamba and Chandra in Lahaul.

In 2015, the state police department had suggested the government to regulate adventure sports activities expressing concern over unregistered activities.