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After questions raised over death of nine trekkers, FIR lodged against tour operator, committee formed to suggest SOP for adventure tourism

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After questions raised over death of nine trekkers, FIR lodged against tour operator, committee formed to suggest SOP for adventure tourism


Dehradun , June 8

After criticism and questions being raised over safety of adventure tourists following death of nine trekkers from Karnataka on Sahstra Tal trek in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand due to extreme weather conditions on june 4, 2024, a police case has been registered against the private tour operator who conducted the trekking tour besides announcement of formation for a committee to recommend  Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for trekking and mountaineering expeditions in higher Himalayan region by Uttarakashi district administration.

Uttarkashi District Magistrate Meharban Singh has constituted a committee headed by Chief Development Officer (CDO) of the district. The other members of the committee are Regional forest Officer,Uttarkashi, Additional District Magistrate, Principal of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, an officer to be nominated by Uttarkashi Superintendent of Police (SP), District Adventure Sports Officer, District Disaster Management Officer and President of Trekking Association, Uttarkashi. The District Tourism development officer will be the secretary of the committee which is expected to give its recommendations within a week, as per district officials.

Earlier, district officials had video conference with members of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) including its’ member Lt. Gen. Ata Hasnain (retd) in which strict protocols for undertaking such hazardous expeditions in higher Himlayan regions were suggested.

Radha Raturi had already ordered a magisterial inquiry into the tragic death of nine trekkers by Garhwal Divisional Commissioner on the directions of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.

Uttarkashi police has also lodged a First Information Report (FIR) under sections 304 (A), 336 of the IPC against the owner of the Himalayan View Adventure company which undertook the trekking expedition to Sahastra Tal in which nine trekkers lost their lives after being caught in a snow blizzard on June 4, 2024. According to police, the company violated the norms and conditions for such a trek and the police was not informed about the expedition. Moreover, no medical fitness and age of trekkers was taken into account and trekkers more than 60 years of age were allowed to trek to such heights of Kush-Kalyan-Sahastra Tal which was not medically advisable. Moreover, the guides of the expedition were ill-equipped and ill- trained for undertaking such an expedition which met with extreme weather conditions leading to death of nine trekkers.

Questions were the being raised about the safety of the adventure tourists and failure of the state government in coming up with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for adventure tourists in the wake of extreme weather conditions in the higher Himalayan region.

A meeting of Uttarkashi District officials to discuss Sahastra Tal tragedy.

Nine members of a 22-member trekking team died after they lost their way due to bad weather during the Sahastra Tal trek in the upper Himalayas in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.

More importantly according to reports, all the members of the team were above the age of 30, with seven members in 30 plus, six members in 40 plus, five members in 50 plus, three members in 60 plus and one member in 70 plus age group. Regrettably, the tourism and forest departments which oversee such adventure activities did not have any Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in dealing with trekking activities.

The most recent tragedy occurred in October 2022, when 29 trainees of Nehru institute of Mountaineering (NIM), died in Uttarkashi’s Draupadi Ka Danda trek after a group of 34 trainees and seven instructors of the premier climbing institution were hit by an avalanche.

A 22-member trekking team, including 18 trekkers from Karnataka and one from Maharashtra besides three local guides, started from, Maneri, on May 29 on a 35-km long trek to Silla-Kushkalyan-Sahastra Tal, located at an altitude of around 4,600 metres, from Uttarkashi. The team was sent by Himalayan View Trekking Agency, a local tour operator. While two of them stayed back, the remaining members trekked to Sahastra Tal and while returning back caught them in a blizzard like situation on June 3. The panicked members mostly women lost their way amidst the fierce snow storm and died. The team was scheduled to return to the base camp on June 7.

The rescue operations were undertaken by helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF), private choppers with the help of State Disaster relief Force (SDRF)  and local civil and police authorities to bring back the stranded trekkers and dead bodies.

The deceased trekkers have been identified as Sindhu Vakekalam (45), Asha Sudhakar (71), Sujata Mungurwadi (51), Vinayak Mungurwadi (54), Chitra Praneeth (48), Padmanabha Kundapur Krishnamurthy (50), Venkatesha Prasad KN (53), Anita Rangappa (60) and Padmini Hegde (34), all residents of Bengaluru in Karnataka, officials said. The dead bodies were sent back to Karnataka on Thursday.


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