Poor rescue and information system in the Himalayas

Rup Narayan Dhakal

By Rup Narayan Dhakal : Nine climbers- 5 Koreans and 4 Nepali supporters perished at Gurja Himal base camp as their tents were swept away by blizzard on October 10, 2018 in Nepal’s Myagdi district. Same kind of blizzard- cyclone Hudhud had killed more than 43 trekkers in Annapurna Circuit on 14 October, 2014.

Trekkers and mountaineers might face high altitude sickness, blizzard, snowfall, landslide, avalanches and other incidents during their journey to highland areas. They sometime go missing and sometime face illness for various reasons during their trip. The above mentioned factors sometime become even the cause of death. But why have such things been happening in Nepal’s mountains and Himalayas for years?

The key reasons behind all that happenings are Nepal’s poor communication, information and rescue system. Nepal has been promoted in international arena and tourists are asked to visit this nation but the government and private sector are fail to come up with strong and in-time communication as well as rescue system. Because of the poor management on those two sides, many trekkers and mountaineers have lost their lives during their journey to Himalayas.

Nepal’s tourism ministry, Nepal Tourism Board, Annapurna Conservation Area Project, Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal, Nepal Mountaineering Association including other institutions collect millions of rupees from tourists in the name of Trekking Information Management System, entry fee, royalty and other fees but their irresponsibility sometime crosses the limit that causes tourists’ death.

So, the death by blizzard in Gurja Himal base camp and Annapurna Circuit trek are the crystal clear examples of that poorness. If there is good and strong communication system between authorities and trekkers including mountaineers, there use to be high chance of saving their lives. If they have prior information of weather forecast, we could save their lives instead of recovering their dead bodies after four days of incidents. Charging money alone to tourists doesn’t fulfill the accountability of entrepreneurs, government and other agencies.

So, we should improve our communication and information system in trekking and mountaineering areas. We should increase signage posting in those areas and the weather forecast information should be pinned up in many points. Internet and telephone services come as essential factors for those areas. Operation of trekking and mountaineering without good information and communication system is sometime become a journey to death. So, Nepal Telecom and Ncell including other telecommunication agencies should reach out their services even to the hilly and remote areas. Authorities should coop with national and international meteorological forecasting agencies to offer weather information to visitors.

At the same time, the private sector and government should develop the tourist tracking system, effective implementation of TIMS and the operation of trekking only with experienced and registered guide. Likewise, some cemented shelters should be developed in trekking and base camp areas. Trekking trails should be repaired and responsible tourism should be promoted.

As there is blocked hundreds of million rupees in the joint account of TAAN and NTB because of their wrangling, tourists who paid for their safety, security and comfort are compelled to trek and climb with many hazards. The government and non government agencies who collect money from tourists in various names should responsibly be utilized for tourists and tourist areas. Trained rescuers and rapid response teams with helicopters should be stand-by for the rescue cause and the hotline telephone service should be available. Unnecessary rescues should be curbed. Private helicopter companies should give priorities to rescue operations in needy situation.

Published on: October 15, 2018 1:37 pm

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