Govt lifts ban on rafting

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, July 7: After it was brought to fore that the Rafting Operators in Pahalgam are operating without taking proper safety measures, the Tourism Department has issued an order directing strict compliance to the safety measure and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
The order comes following the incidents of boat capsize in Pahalgam resulting in the death of three in last month, which forced the department to suspend the rafting across Kashmir. The order has also directed the resumption of rafting in Pahalgam and Sonamarg subject to the compliance of guidelines by the operators.
“The concerned Assistant Director/ Tourist Officer and incharge Tourist Police of destination shall ensure that the safety measures have been put in place by the operators and then only allow them to start the operations,” the order read.
While it was also reported by this newspaper that concerned officials do not personally inspect the operations of the rafting operators, the order has directed the Assistant Director Tourism and Tourist Police to monitor such operations.
“One official from the office of Assistant Director/ Tourist officer from concerned destination and another from Enforcement wing of Tourist Police shall be always deployed at Put in Point so that it is ensured that the safety precautions are taken by operators and they shall stop the operations in case of any deviation or adverse weather,” the order directed.
The order said that a technical expert was hired by the department for providing technical guidance regarding rafting operations and to suggest more safety measures. “It has been observed that adopting the safety measures will ensure better and safe commercial rafting throughout the Kashmir,” the order said.
The order directed that the registered rafting operators shall follow all the guidelines and SOPs, while as also asking them that the measures as recommended by the expert shall also be followed. “In no case rafting shall be allowed in high volumes,” it added.
“The rafting operators must ensure that rescue raft shall always be in front of raft carrying tourists/ clients during joy rides,” it added.


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