Paragliders in Sarangkot, Pokhara ski in this recent file photo. Photo: Umesh Pun/Republica
POKHARA, March 6: A paragliding tournament is being organized in Pokhara. However, neither is the organizer of the event disclosed, nor does the regulatory authority have any information about it.
People have started getting information about the tournament through informal channels in the wake of paragliding accidents occurring almost every day.
The Himalayan Open Cup, being held in Sarangkot, started on Wednesday, as its website says.
The tournament, of AFAI-2 category, is organized by a pilot group from Russia. But the organizers have not taken permission from any regulatory authority. The only thing the authorities know about the tournament is that it is being held in Sarangkot, but even the local level assisting organization does not know anything about it.
It is mandatory that whenever a paragliding tournament is organized in Pokhara, the organizers should take permission from the Nepal Airsports Association (NAA), the National Sports Council (NSC), and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). Although the participants are said to have taken permission from the CAAN, there has been no information in this regard. The individual participating pilots took the permission earlier.
"We have heard that a paragliding tournament is being organized in Sarangkot. But we have not received any official information about it," Bhola Prasad Guragain, chief of CAAN Pokhara, said. "Individual pilots had taken permission to play in the tournament, but their flights are only limited to ‘Fun-fly’. The official permission has not been taken yet."
"Even though the pilots took permission from us, they did not clarify that they did it for the tournament," he added. The CAAN has been taking charge of paragliding in the country. It gives permission for visa processing and the license after official information is submitted. The pilots showed these documents to the authority.
There are more than five dozen paragliding companies in Pokhara. The authority gives permission to interested foreign pilots who want to play in Pokhara for about 15 days, upon receiving proposal from a Nepali company. Foreign pilots need to submit Rs 5,600 each to fly in Pokhara.
In the last 10 days or so, about 216 pilots have taken permission from the authority.
According to the authority, about 500 solo pilots have been granted permission to fly in Pokhara from January 14 to March 4 this year. Now, the pilots, among the ones granted permission to fly solo, are organizing the tournament without even informing the local organizing committee.
"One needs to inform the authority by clearing the aerial route when organizing a tournament, but they have not taken permission for it. The pilots have only taken permission to fly solo," Guragain said.