Chartered helicopter services banned inside Annapurna Base Camp regionThe fourth council meeting of the Annapurna Rural Municipality decided to prohibit choppers in the region last fiscal year, citing adverse impact on the region’s ecology and tourism.
Annapurna Rural Municipality has imposed a ban on the operation of chartered helicopter flights in the Annapurna Base Camp region. The municipality recently announced its plan to restrict helicopters from flying in the area. It will, however, allow rescue helicopters to fly to the area.
The fourth council meeting of the rural municipality had decided to prohibit helicopters in the region in the last fiscal year. The ward office of Annapurna-11 had registered an application with the District Administration Office requesting to stop commercial flights citing its adverse effects on the region’s ecology and tourism.
Him Bahadur Gurung, chairman of Annapurna Rural Municipality Ward No. 11, said the number of chartered helicopters flying into the Annapurna Base Camp region had increased in recent years, and these unmanaged flights had polluted the environment.
“We used to see Himalayan monal, Ghoral and Kasturi in our villages. But now we don’t see them anymore; the noise pollution caused by helicopters have chased them away,” said Gurung.
Ramesh Kumar KC, chief district officer, however, said that helicopter flights should be monitored and their frequency kept at check rather than putting a complete ban on their operation in the region.
“We just started the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign. This decision stands to affect tourist movement in the Annapurna Base Camp region,” said KC.
Five helicopter companies are currently operating chartered flights from Pokhara Airport to the Annapurna region. Devraj Subedi, the spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Pokhara branch, said his office has received a letter from the District Administration Office, informing them to stop the operation of chartered flights based on the demand of ACAP, rural municipality and local entrepreneurs.
“However, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has not officially told us to stop chartered helicopter flights to the region,” said Subedi.
Helicopter companies, for now, have stopped their flights, giving in to the request of the ACAP, rural municipality and the Civil Aviation Authority, said Raj Kumar Gurung, chief at ACAP.
Every year, around 15,000 tourists charter helicopters to the Annapurna Base Camp.