High altitude sports and expeditions in the state will now be out of bounds for those below 16 years. Following the death of a young trekker from the state in the Himalayas, the Maharashtra government has come out with rules to regulate adventure sports. Notified through a government resolution (GR) issued on June 26, the new rules bar under-16s from participating in adventure sports held above an altitude of 3,000 m, while making medical fitness certificates mandatory for older enthusiasts.
The norms also make government registration mandatory for all institutes and individuals organising adventure activities, including trekking, mountaineering, skiing, snow boarding, para-sailing, paragliding, and water sports, among others, whether within or outside the state. Such registrations will have to be done in the next three months. The resolution cautions that failure to observe the norm will invite criminal action. A district-level committee, headed by the district sports officer, will oversee the registration process, it further states.
Last July, the Bombay High Court had directed the state government to evolve rules and guidelines for regulation of adventure sports while hearing a plea from parents of a young trekker, who had died of respiratory disorder while participating in a trekking expedition to the Himalayas. The government has also formed a state-level apex committee to monitor the implementation of the guidelines.
Justifying the move, the state said keeping a tab on safety procedures and regulating adventure activities was impossible without a regulatory mechanism. The states tourism and cultural affair department has claimed that most institutes and individuals organising such activities lacked trained expertise and ignored safety procedures. To overcome this, the government has now made availability of certified trainers a must for institutes and individuals organising such activities.
It has, however, clarified that this norm would not be applicable for “local guides” assisting such expeditions or activities. It has also laid down safety procedures and has made it binding on the organisers to distribute personal protective equipment to all participants. The organisers will have to ensure that their volunteers include certified first aiders. It will be the organisers’ responsibility to ensure that all participants are adequately insured.
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As per the rules, the organisers must explain the arrangements and risks involved in detail to participants, and collect written affidavits in this regard before embarking on the activity. It will also be the organisers’ responsibility to submit all details regarding participants to the district-level panel. The organisers must ensure that food arrangements are in place in case of activities involving an overnight stay. The government has said registrations of those found violating guidelines will be terminated. A fee of Rs 1,000 will be collected for registrations.