Airline companies to pay Rs 10,000 for chartered helicopter flights to Annapurna base camp

Published On: April 3, 2023 06:30 AM NPT By: SANTOSH POKHREL

POKHARA, April 2: To regulate the random helicopter flights at the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC), which is at a height of 4130 meters above the sea level, the rural municipality is formulating a law. In order to regulate flights other than rescue and relief efforts, the Annapurna Rural Municipality of Kaski has prepared the ‘Management of Helicopter Flight Tourism Fees in Annapurna Base Camp Procedure 2079 BS'.

According to the spokesman of the rural municipality, Bharataman Gurung, the indiscriminate flying and landing of helicopters in the ABC area has affected the environment of that area, but since it could not be stopped easily, a procedure has been started to regulate it. ABC belongs to Annapurna Rural Municipality-11. It is a famous trekking destination in world tourism. Thousands of foreign trekkers reach the base camp every year. It takes five days to reach the base camp from Pokhara.

"The work of landing helicopters at the base camp has been going on for a long time. Flying haphazardly has an impact on the environment while it has increased noise and air pollution. We could not stop the flights on our own, that's why we have made the procedure,” said spokesperson Gurung, 

“We have tried to control the flight by bringing it under the law.”

 According to Gurung, helicopters carrying tourists arrive from Pokhara to the ABC early in the morning. The chartered helicopters have not yet paid any landing fees. However, now they have to pay Rs 10,000, said Gurung.

He said that the procedures have been made so that they can fly only after paying the fee set by the local level. This procedure made by the rural municipality was published in the local gazette of last Monday. Gurung said that it came into effect from the day after it was published in the gazette.

He said that even before this, the rural municipality had taken sufficient steps to stop the helicopter flying in the ABC area. However, he said that the initiative was not enough. 

“The flights were also suspended for some time after the rural municipality banned it. But, later it started again," he said. "The local residents were also demanding control of the helicopter flights, but it was not successful, now one cannot disobey the rules." 

He said that due to the helicopter flights, the forests, the mountain ranges, the birds and the wild animals there have been affected, and due to the wind and noise, the mountain ranges have also been affected.

The flights were closed as per the announcement, but "fake" flights were conducted in the name of rescue operation. “Even though we found about the 'fake rescue', we could not stop it because of the lack of law," he said.

According to the procedures of the rural municipality, only up to 12 flights will be allowed in a day. However, in case of emergency, if rescue and relief work is required, more than that number can be flown. No helicopter company will be allowed to fly in the protected and base camp areas of the rural municipality without obtaining the flight registration letter from the rural municipality. The companies will have to pay Rs 10,000 for each flight. 

“This will increase the revenue of the rural municipality," said spokesperson Gurung. "Flight for rescue and relief will not be charged."

Spokesman Gurung also said that local clubs or organizations can be entrusted with the management. He said that currently three helicopter companies are flying to the base camp. Spokesperson Gurung also informed that the three companies will be allowed to fly at the rate of four flights and not more than 12 flights per day.

Him Bahadur Gurung, Chairman of Annapurna Rural Municipality, also says that the random flights of helicopters in the base camp have affected the environment there. Te said that the local government tried to control it by creating a procedure when they were unable to regulate such flights.

 “There were 40-50 flights per day. However, the rural municipality did not get even one rupee," he said. 

Tourists who could not go on foot chartered the helicopters to take them to the base camp. The guests who went in the helicopter were allowed to visit the base camp for a while and after half an hour they returned to Pokhara. Businessmen started flying helicopters saying that it would be convenient for the tourists to reach the base camp in a short time. At one point of  time, a helicopter was chartered to take guests to the base camp for a fee of at least Rs 25,000 per person.


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