Paragliding in Pokhara. Photo: Umesh Pun/ Republica Files
Chinese embassy shows concern over the aerial sport
POKHARA, May 27: Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has warned paragliding companies of action if they act against the laws and regulations of the CAAN. The authority has also warned both pilots and companies of canceling their license if they continue to breach the regulations.
“The CAAN will take action under the criminal law to illegal companies and pilots,” reads a CAAN letter sent to the paragliding companies.
The CAAN has directed the companies to operate maximum two flights a day. Likewise, no foreign pilots are allowed to work without having labor approval. Currently, around 70 paragliding companies are in operation across the country.
“Even in the past, we had directed the companies to act according to law but they are not doing so,” said Kashiram Poudel, information officer of CAAN office based in Pokhara.
Both the pilots and companies are involved in conducting take-off and landing randomly in places that are not approved. This has increased the number of accidents, Poudel added. “The pilot is the one that breaks the rules. Overtaking the approved areas has increased accidents,” Poudel said. According to him, only two areas -- from Toripani to Chankhapur and from Sarangkot to Khapaudi -- are approved for paragliding in Pokhara.
“Government instructions have been limited on papers only, and companies as well as pilots are taking undue advantage of the government’s lack of action,” said Sovit Baniya, vice president of Nepal Air Sports Association.
Although the country is regarded a popular destination for adventurous sports, concerned authorities are simply overlooking their responsibilities and not taking appropriate action, Baniya added.
“Due to the lack of government monitoring, companies and pilots are operating flights going against the law,” Baniya told Republica. During the prime season, around 400 flights operate in Pokhara.
Even the Chinese Embassy has expressed concern about paragliding safety, citing mismanagement by the companies. Almost 90 percent Chinese tourists coming to Nepal go for paragliding. The embassy has drawn the attention of its citizens who going for paragliding in Pokhara.
The embassy has expressed its concern after some Chinese tourists died while paragliding in Pokhara. There have also been incidents of robbery of mobile and valuable stuff, as well as injuries during paragliding.
“The Chinese Embassy in Nepal once again reminds Chinese tourists in Nepal of the risk of participating in tourist activities such as paragliding, mountain hiking and rafting. If you decides to participate in these activities, please evaluate your own health status, learn well the activity requirements and local weather conditions, buy necessary travel insurance in advance, select qualified local travel agencies, fully understand and sign the agreements with regard to the rescue measures and related dispute settlement clauses of the travel agencies when accidents happen,” reads a notice published by the embassy.