Uttaranchal, new regulations. While the world is opening its doors to mountaineers and mountain lovers, the news from the new Uttaranchal State in India is distressing. The state contains some of the most beautiful areas in the Indian Himalaya, with peaks like Nanda Devi, Kamet, and Shivling. The Uttaranchal State has imposed severe restrictions on climbing and imposed special royalty charges for mountaineers to pay (minimum US $1,400). This is in addition to charges payable to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. Moreover special and separate permission (red tape!) must be obtained from the officials in the state, forest department, and local authorities. At least half the porters must be employed from local villages, and each village is to be paid a fee as you trek through it. The forest department is to be paid a special fee to camp on their land. Several foreign expeditions (notably a Spanish team on Shivling) were charged these extra fees in 2004. Indian mountaineers and trekkers are also not spared, and for the first time Indian teams will have to pay peak fees to climb a peak in their country. After many discussions, negotiations, and protests, which were brushed aside, the state government has decided to impose these rules for the 2005 season. Please check full details, rates and addresses for formalities at www.indmount.org.
Harish Kapadia, Honorary Editor, The Himalayan Journal