Trekking and expeditions: Govt opens 137 peaks for foreigners

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New Delhi: The Central government has opened 137 mountain peaks across four states for foreigners desirous of obtaining mountaineering visa. These peaks are located in the Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.

Among the 137 mountains, Uttarakhand has 51 peaks, Sikkim has 24 and Himachal Pradesh has 37. These include Dunagiri (7,066 m) and Hardeol (7,151 m) in Uttarakhand; Kabru South (7000 m) and North (7000 m) in Sikkim; and Mulkila (6,571 metre) in Himachal Pradesh.

Currently, foreigners have to seek permission from the ministries of defence and home to climb these peaks. With the government opening them up, foreigners can now directly apply to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation for permits.

The Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel, has expressed his gratitude to Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, for acceding to the request of Tourism Ministry to open up more peaks to foreigners. It is a historic step towards promoting adventure tourism in the country, said Patel.

The home ministry in an order said the proposal for opening up mountaineering and trekking in all Himalayan states was under consideration.

For carrying satellite phones the expedition teams have to take prior permissions from the department of telecommunication, the home ministry said, adding that all information gathered have to be shared with locals formations.

The ministry has also clarified that the teams cannot take any photos of any installations without consent and will have to limit itself to the approved routes.

The Tourism Minister urged the states to exercise utmost caution while registering adventure tourism operators and also to ensure that the adventure tourism guidelines are followed by the states.

States were also asked to hand out licenses to professionals to avoid accidents, and engage a nodal officer to look into adventure tourism-related matters.

The Indian Adventure Tourism Guidelines 2018 cover the land, air and water-based activities which includes mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, river rafting and many other sports.

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