Though the government postpone the International Sagarmatha Day celebrations for this year, private sector celebrated the day as part of their ongoing protest against Nepal Tourism Day (NTB).
Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC), a group of more than three dozen travel trade associations, took out a rally on May 29 to celebrate 7th International Sagarmatha Day, 36th Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) Day and 7th Republic Day. The rally started from Thamel and culminated into a program in the premises of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
Participants of the rally put garlands on the statues of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary – the first mountaineers to reach the summit of Mt Everest. Kancha Sherpa, the last living member of the British Everest Expedition, which put Sherpa and Hillary on the summit of Mt Everest, was present on the occasion.
Addressing the program, JTCC Coordinator Ramesh Dhamala said they decided to celebrate the day despite the government decision to postpone the celebration as celebration of Int’l Sagarmatha Day on other day won’t have any meaning.
Suman Pandey, the president of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal, said that the private sector would not stop protesting until the government fulfilled their demands.
JTCC has been organizing a series of protest programs against NTB, with demands like the removal of Subash Nirola from the post of acting CEO of NTB to pave the way for early appointment of a new CEO, an independent audit of expenditures made by NTB over the past five years, and institutional representation of the private sector in the board of NTB, among others.
Dhamala also reiterated that they would enforce banda in major tourism destinations on Sunday and shut down all tourism-related services for three days starting Monday.
JTCC said it would enforce bandas in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan — the three major tourist destinations in the country — on Sunday, and halt all tourism-related services like hotel-booking, and airline and tourist bus ticketing. JTCC said it would not operate tours, and trekking and rafting trips as well from Monday to Wednesday.
At the program, Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) handed over checks for Rs 700,000 to Seven Summits Women Team and Rs 600,000 to Nepali Women K2 Expedition.
Police used force to disperse participants of a peaceful automobile rally organized by Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) and arrested 15 tourism entrepreneurs.
More than two dozen tourism entrepreneurs were injured in the incident, a statement issued by JTCC said.
According to the statement, police arrested Deepak Mahat, Ramesh Dhamala, Chandra Rijal, Bodhraj Bhandari, Rajendra Subedi, Rajkumar Pandey, Bal Bahadur Samari, Rajaram Basnet, Achyut Dhakal, Tek Gurung, Bijaya Lama, Laxman Shrestha, Mankaji Lama, Bir Bhadur Gurung and Surendra Bhattarai. Bhattarai, who was participating in the relay hunger strike, was arrested from the relay hunger strike site in the premises of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) itself.
All of them were released later on the day.
Injured entrepreneurs are receiving treatment in Kathmandu Model Hospital, Bir Hospital and Manmohan Memorial Hospital.
JTCC had sought the permission to organize the rally from the District Administration Office, Kathmandu. It had organized motorbike rally on the same route on Monday.
“We condemn the government act of suppressing the peaceful protest of tourism entrepreneurs by using police force, instead of addressing our genuine demands. We will intensify the protest if our demands are not addressed at the earliest,” the statement said.
JTCC has also said it would take the initiatives to file cases against the guilty police officer in the international court of justice for human rights violation.
Meanwhile, a meeting of JTCC held on Tuesday afternoon passed condemnation proposal against the police action.
Addressing a corner meet at NTB premises following the release of arrested leaders, Deepak Mahat, president of National Entrepreneurs’ Association for Tourism-Nepal (NEAT-Nepal), said police used force while tourism entrepreneurs were exercising the rights to freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution. “We have learnt that the officer on duty attacked our peaceful protest without taking order from his senior. We will find out the motive behind his move and take appropriate action,” he said.
Similarly, JTCC Coordinator Ramesh Dhamala said they won’t lose patience despite police high-handedness. “The government says it would prioritize agriculture, hydropower and tourism for economic development. I would like to ask the tourism minister is this how he intends to develop the tourism sector,” he said.
Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC), which has been organizing series of protest against irregularities in Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), has launched new protest programs.
Ramesh Dhamala, coordinator of JTCC and president of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), announced the new protest program at a press meet on Sunday.
According to the new protest plan, JTCC will organize motorbike rally on Monday to raise awareness regarding its protest programs. Similarly on Tuesday, JTCC will organize car/jeep rally.
On Wednesday and Thursday the tourism entrepreneurs will join hand to celebrate International Sagarmatha Day, TAAN Day and Republic Day.
On Friday and Saturday, they plan to assemble at all four gates of CA Building in New Baneshwar and apprise all lawmakers of their demands. They will also request the lawmakers to raise their demands in the meeting of the parliament.
If the demands are not addressed by then, the tourism entrepreneurs plan to take out a rally along with tourist buses, cars, jeeps and vans, and organize sit-in protest outside the CA Building.
Along with the new protest programs, JTCC will give continuity to the ongoing relay hunger strike in NTB premises.
Speaking at the program, JTCC Coordinator Ramesh Dhamala said the government left them with no option but to come to the street. “Still, we won’t involve in violent activities. We believe that we can press the authorities concerned to address our demands without resorting to violence,” he added.
Similarly, Deepak Mahat of National Entrepreneurs’ Association for Tourism-Nepal (NEAT-Nepal) called upon all tourism entrepreneurs to unite and fight for a common cause. “Some people are trying to bring rift among us, we should be careful about them,” he added.
Ganesh Simkhada of Tourism Sector Committee of UCPN (Maoist), Rajendra Sapkota of Tourism Sector Committee of CPN-UML also spoke on the occasion.
JTCC has been organizing different protest programs against irregularities in NTB for the past 26 days. Among others, it has demanded removal of Subash Nirola from the post of acting CEO of NTB to pave the way for early appointment of new CEO, independent audit of expenditures made by NTB over the past five years, and institutional representation of private sector in the board of NTB.
Nepal has opened a new eight-thousander named Yalung Kang (8,077m), also known as Kanchanjunga West, for commercial expedition.
With this, the number of 8,000-meters peaks in the country has reached nine. The government has also begun the process to give international recognition to the new peaks. A proposal to give recognition to five Nepali 8,000-meter peaks, including Yalung Kang, is under consideration at the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation popularly known as the UAAA.
Other proposed 8,000-meter peaks include Kanchanjunga South (8,476m), Kanchanjunga Central (8,473m), Lhotse Middle (8,413m) and Lhotse Shar (8,400m).
Along with Yalung Kang, the government opened 103 other peaks for commercial expedition. Within this, the number of peaks opened for mountaineering has reached 414. The cabinet meeting held on Wednesday took the decision.
Among the newly opened peaks, nine are above 7,000m, 90 above 6,000m and 4 above 5,000m. The government has also decided to promote peaks, measuring less than 5,800 meters as trekking peaks.
Nepal has a total of 3,310 peaks including 1,913 climbing peaks.
An Indian mountaineer and two Nepali Sherpa guides have gone missing in an avalanche at 7,500 meters near Camp IV of Kanchanjunga West (8,505 meters), also known as Yalung Kang, on Monday.
Chhanda Gayen of West Bengal state of India and the two Sherpas – Pema Sherpa and Dawa Wangchu Sherpa — were attempting to climb Kanchanjunga West after successful summit of Kanchanjunga Main (8,585 meters) when the incident occurred, a press statement of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), said quoting Mingma Sherpa, the owner of Seven Summits Treks that operated the expedition.
Deepak KC of mountaineering section at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has also confirmed the accident, according to the statement.
Chhanda is the first civilian women from West Bengal to reach the summit of Mt Everest – the tallest peak on earth.
“We sent chopper on Tuesday as well as on Wednesday to look for the missing. Unfortunately, the chopper couldn’t land due to bad weather,” Mingma said in the statement.
A team of officials from the West Bengal State government of India is coming to Nepal on Thursday to oversee rescue operations
“We will send chopper along with the Indian officials on Friday as well,” added Mingma.
Mingma, however, said the chances of rescuing the Indian climbers and Nepali Sherpas appear slim.
“According to Na Tashi Sherpa, who was part of the expedition team, the avalanche was so big that it would be difficult to recover the bodies leave alone finding them alive,” Mingma said in the statement.
Na Tashi is now at the Kanchanjunga Base Camp.
Earlier in April, 13 Sherpa workers were killed when an avalanche struck near Camp I of Mt Everest. Three others are still missing.