Annapurna Region safe for trekking: Study

An internationally-acclaimed engineering firm has confirmed that structural damage in two popular trekking trails in the region following the earthquake of April 25 and aftershocks thereafter is very minimal.

The study, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), also declared that Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary trails are safe for trekking.

Submitting its report to MoCTCA on Thursday, officials of Miyamoto said only 3 percent i.e. 6 out of 250 accommodations along the trails have suffered minor repairable damages. “All 30 bridges on the trails are safe. Only around 250 meters track on the trails needs to be rerouted,” the report states.

The study was funded by SAMARTH-NMDP — a program supported by UKAID.

Speaking at a program organized in Kathmandu on Thursday, Kit Miyamoto, team leader of the assessment group, said Annapurna Region is open for business for autumn. “However, there are some areas that have been identified as having a particularly high hazard level due to their existing features or geometry. For example, very high rock slopes and areas with evidence of historic large rock fall and slope instability,” said Miyamoto.

The study team has suggested carrying out a detailed risk-assessment study of some areas. “It is recommended that a detailed hazard and risk assessment is undertaken at Bagarchhap to better understand the slope stability and rapid deposition risk to villagers and tourists staying in the area. Until such time as this is complete, we recommend that the risk present at the village is considered intolerably high for overnight occupancy,” the report stated.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripasur Sherpa said the independent assessment will help to clear negative message about Nepal in the international market. “Now we can tell the world that trekking in the region is completely safe,” he added.

The team has also recommended placing ‘Landslide Hazard No Stopping for 2 km’ signage on either side of the new regolith landslide north of Bhratang. It has also suggested to the government to re-route the section of track that is located at the scarp of the large rockslide between Kimrong and Chomrong or Jhinu Danda which is located within two meters from the edge of the failure. “The track should be located at least 100 meters upslope from the edge of failure. The section of track that requires re-routing is approximately 250 meters long,” the report adds.

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