Darjeeling mountaineering institute facilitates safe return of students
Darjeeling: The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling facilitated the return of stranded trainees to their respective destinations.
"Out of 76 trainees, 39 trainees left HMI in the past 24 hours. 32 trainees have reached home safely. On Tuesday, 3 trainees left for Nagpur and 4 for Delhi. The last 38 trainees will remain at HMI till their respective state governments make arrangements or any other arrangement can be made" stated Group Captain Jai Kishan, Principal, HMI.
In total 76 trainees from all across the country including 22 trainees from Bengal had attended the basic mountaineering and search and rescue courses conducted by HMI. The courses commenced on March 2 and 6 respectively. The trainees had departed for HMI base camp at Chowrikhang (West Sikkim 14600 ft) for field training on March 10 and 14 respectively, which ended on March 24.
With the help of the Governments of West Bengal and Sikkim, the trainees were brought back to the HMI safely. However, they then got stranded at HMI, since March 26 owing to the lockdown. As per schedule, the trainees would have left the institute after attending the graduation ceremony on March 31, which latter held on May 2. "It was a challenging task to keep the trainees safe in the institute; keep them engaged as well as arrange for food. Everything had to be done maintaining social distancing and hygiene" added the Principal.
No additional funds or grants were available to support 76 trainees and 50 support staff inside the hostel for more than 40 days (beyond the course duration). The institute coordinated with local police and other states to facilitate the return of the 39 trainees. The students shared the cost of transportation. After a thorough medical checkup, the trainees left by road. "31 trainees are still struck at HMI waiting from their respective state Governments to evacuate them from HMI. Though HMI had already communicated to all the respective states, a response from the states is still awaited" stated Group Captain Jai Kishan.