MoCTCA directs CAAN to ban helicopter operations at ABC area

The helicopter’s commercial flight has been stopped at the Annapurna Base Camp with a strict law enforcement.

Rabindra Adhikari, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has directed to stop commercial flights apart from ‘rescue’ at Annapurna base camp as Annapurna Ghaupalika has been struggling to stop commercial flights.

“At any point, the helicopter are not allowed to operate at ABC, said Minister Adhikari while inaugurating the International Mountainous Festival in Pokhara. He also directed Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) not to provide approval of permission except for relief and rescue purposes.

Hari Bhujel, Chairman of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAN) stated that the business of trekking has went down because of helicopter operations in the zone. He also said that the government always aims to keep tourists for longer periods but if a helicopter takes tourists to ABC at 45 minutes in $100 then it will definitely affect tourism business as well as income to the nation.

Currently, Prabhu helicopter and Simrik Air operate 20 flights daily at Annapurna area.

Yubraj Kunwar, Chairman of Annapurna Ghaupalika stated that due to helicopter flights, the environment of ABC area is under threat. “ The main occupation of people living here is tourism. If helicopter companies take tourists directly to ABC then what should people do for livelihood?” he questioned.

Similarly, Minister Adhikari informed that the ministry has aim to bring in two million tourists in the year 2020. He also said that Gandaki is a chief tourist destination in the nation.

Earlier, Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) had set rules for not allowing helicopter to operate without permission but the companies did not follow the rules. Authorities are planning to give priority to roadways rather than flight operations.

The village authority has also planned to introduce new roadways, enhance existing roadways, and to welcome more visitors.

As Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) has cited in their Rule 16 of ACAP Rules, 2053, helicopters are banned in the conservation area without their permission and all the flights at the conservation area, except for the ones for rescue purposes must receive permission from ACAP and pay an amount of NPR 2000/- to carry out their flights.

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