Pritesh Basu, MP | 16 March 2017 | Kolkata: The government has made it very clear that there won't be any compromise with the guidelines set for mountaineering as the lives of our climbers are very precious.
The guidelines were set up following the mishap in 2016 in mountaineering expeditions to Everest in which three from Bengal died.
This year, two mountaineers from the state, who had applied for expeditions to Mount Everest, are yet to get a nod from state government. The reason being, according to the sources, they are yet to provide all documents required to meet the guidelines "brought in to ensure their safety". On the contrary, last year 11 mountaineers had approached the government who were given the clearance and financial support for their expeditions.
This year, the two aspirants have been asked to provide necessary documents at the earliest to fulfill all criteria to get a go ahead that also assures a financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh from the state government for their expedition.
It was clearly stated while announcing the new set of guidelines on July 26, 2016 that the state government will not be responsible for any mountaineers if they take up the expedition at their own risk without fulfilling the criteria.
Aroop Biswas, the state Youth Services and Sports minister, had said while announcing the guidelines that its necessity was felt for the safety of mountaineers.
Basanta Singha Roy, who is the advisor to the West Bengal Mountaineering and Adventure Sports Foundation (WBMASF) under the state Youth Services department, said measures have been brought in for the safety of mountaineers. Thus, no compromise in giving clearance to mountaineers will be in any way helpful to them and their family members.
Mountaineers aspiring to climb Mount Everest need to approach the WBMASF to get the clearance as well as the grant of the state government to take up the expedition. All the 11 aspirants who took up expedition in 2016, had got the clearance of WBMASF and received financial assistance for the same. Three of them – Subhas Pal, Paresh Chandra Nath and Goutam Ghosh — died during the expedition in May 2016.
Bodies of Paresh and Goutam are yet to be recovered. Family members of Goutam have already approached the state government to take up rescue operation once again this year. It is possible to carry out the rescue operation only in the months of May and June in Mount Everest. Following the incident, the Youth Services department had formed a nine-member committee to ensure that mountaineers taking up expeditions fulfill all the set guidelines.
Sources said, this time only two mountaineers aspiring to climb Mount Everest approached WBMASF. But both of them have failed to produce all the documents necessary to prove their eligibility to take up the expedition. The matter was discussed in a meeting of WBMASF held in January and both the mountaineers were asked to submit the rest of the required documents to clear all the parameters to get a go ahead from the state government. The next meeting of WBMASF is scheduled to be held next week.
The matter will be taken up in the meeting to assess whether the mountaineers have submitted the rest of the required documents to fulfill the criteria. Usually, mountaineers start for Nepal from Kolkata in the end of March or early February if they aspire to climb Mount Everest. It may be mentioned that as per the guidelines that was announced by Biswas, a person above 50 years will not be allowed to take part in the expedition as most of them suffer from breathing trouble in high altitude.
A mountaineer aspiring to climb a 8,848 metre high Mount Everest or any peak above 8,000 metre has to have experience of successfully climbing any four peaks of 6,000 metre in the past five years from his or her date of journey. The aspirants also have to go through prescribed medical tests and should also have insurance policies for undertaking rescue operations (including helicopter fare and sherpas) if necessary. From 1953 to 2016, as many as 22 mountaineers from West Bengal successfully reached the summit. Out of these, 18 mountaineers managed to be successful between 2011-16 after the Mamata Banerjee government encouraged mountaineering and adventure sports in Bengal.