The unorganized and dangerous sport of paragliding in Manali, which was mostly being operated by Nepalese and youths from outside the state, came to an end on Tuesday with formation of a paragliders’ association and strictness by the tourism department.
After the government put restriction on all adventure activities in Rohtang area, the most popular activity – paragliding – remained shut for many days in Solang valley, which was resumed by the paragliding association on Tuesday with some strict terms and conditions. Tourism department had recently raided Marhi and Solang valley for illegal paragliding and challaned many paragliders. Most of the paragliders who fly along with tourists have no technical knowledge and have no license to fly. Many tourists sustain injuries due to bad take off and landing in past few years.
“All unauthorized pilots have been expelled. Nobody would be allowed to fly with tourists except for skilled and license holders from Wednesday,” founder of the association Roshan Lal said. He said countless paragliders were flying in Manali without having proper technical knowledge, which was leading to risk and inconvenience to tourists. “Now the number of paragliders has been limited to about 100 and area of paragliding has also been marked.
Though a complete ban would be imposed on paragliding from July 15 due to peak monsoon season, the activity would continue till then. Paragliders have turned strict after government put ban on most of the activities on Rohtang area. Fearing government’s intervention, they chose to improve standards of paragliding themselves.
“Tourism department has allotted authorized licenses to some pilots. Still our association would check if the license holder has enough technical knowledge to fly or he should not be allowed to offer his services. Now all paragliders will have to register themselves with the paragliders’ association to be able to fly in Manali,” Ganga Thakur, another member of the assocaiton, said.
Tourism assistant director Minu Ram Dhiman said they never had put a ban on paragliding, but had just challaned some unauthorized pilots who were flying at Marhi. “Marhi is not fit for flying. Solang valley has been identified for this purpose. We are always in favor of promotion of safe and eco-friendly tourism. All paragliders are directed to fly in areas identified for this purpose,” he said.
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