Scaling new heights: Govt enforces guidelines for aspiring mountaineers
The state government will not be responsible for any mountaineers “if they take up expedition in their own responsibility without informing the state government”.
Aroop Biswas, the state Youth Affairs minister, said in Nabanna: “West Bengal Mountaineering and Adventure Sports Foundation (WBMASF) under the state Youth Affairs department has always been supportive in encouraging youth in getting involved in sports like mountain climbing, paragliding, sports climbing and jungle trekking. But, the recent incidents which has claimed lives when youth from the state had undertaken expedition to climb Mount Everest and other high peaks has prompted the state government to bring the guidelines into force.”
“The guidelines has to be followed by the sports person who is interested in taking part in any adventure sports or mountain climbing and to get financial and other supports from WBMASF,” said Biswas.
As per the guidelines a person attaining 50 years of age on January first of the current year will no longer be allowed to take part in the expedition. According to the experts the reason behind not allowing people above 50 years to take part in the activities is that they start suffering from breathing trouble.
Secondly, a person aspiring to climb Mount Everest (8,848 metre) or any peak above 8,000 metre has to have an experience of successfully climbing any four peaks of 6,000 metre in the past five years from the date of journey.
The aspirant has to undergo “the whole body medical examination” either in SSKM Hospital or Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. They also have to go through special tests of lungs and heart in either of the two hospitals to secure a “medically fit” certificate.
The certificate has to be placed before the selection committee which is comprised of Principal Secretary of the Youth Affairs department, two other senior officials of the department, a cardiologist, a general physician and four mountaineers – Basanta Singha Roy, Debashis Biswas, Dipankar Ghosh and Ujjal Roy, who is also aN officer of the Kolkata Police. The committee will give clearance to an aspirant if its members consider him or her to be fit for expedition.
At the same time, the aspirants has to have insurance policies for their family members and they should also have insurance policy to undertake rescue operation if necessary.
The insurance policy for rescue operation should include the expense of engaging helicopter and sherpas. While applying for clearance, mountaineers also have to provide details of the organisation that will be funding their expedition and contact details of their base camp managers.
The state government will send details of mountaineers who get selected by the committee. Thus anyone taking up the expedition without informing the state government will not be in the list and the Nepal government will not have any official records of the person.
It may be mentioned that since 1953, when Tenzing Norgay of Darjeeling and Edmund Hillary of New Zealand had climbed the Mount Everest for the first time, 22 mountaineers from West Bengal had successfully reached the summit. Interestingly, only four of them were successful during the Left Front Regime while rest 18 reached the summit in the past five years after the change of guard in the state.
In 2014, mountaineer Chanda Gain went missing while descending Mount Kanchenjunga in an avalanche. The incident had taken place just a year after she had successful in climbing Mount Everest. Subhash Paul, another mountaineer, had collapsed while descending after a
successful summit at the Hillary Step ice wall and died the next day. Sunita Hazra, who was also a member of Paul’s team, was rescued. But suffered frost bite.