High Court Sets Age Limit for Adventure Activities in Himachal Pradesh, Mandatory Safety Protocol

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The Himachal Pradesh High Court has taken necessary steps to improve safety in river sports like kayaking and river rafting. The court has directed the Deputy Commissioner of Kullu to establish an upper age limit for adventure activities in Himachal and to ensure that senior citizens provide a fitness certificate before engaging in them. These new requirements come in the wake of safety lapses and a tragic incident involving the death of a 65-year-old tourist.

The bench, led by Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua have highlighted critical safety shortcomings in river rafting activities. They pointed out a failure to meet Rule 11(b) of the Himachal Pradesh River Rafting Rules, 2005, which requires operators to have at least two rescue rafts or a mix of one raft and a kayak for emergencies. The updated order by the court insists on strict compliance with safety rules and also requires setting an upper age limit for adventure activities in Himachal to reduce the risk of accidents.

Beyond these directives, the court has instructed the District Magistrate of Kullu to review the current safety practices and suggest further actions to avoid accidents. The Deputy Commissioner is required to provide a report outlining the enforcement efforts and penalties given to rafting operators who have not followed the rules over the last two years. A follow-up meeting is set for July 18 to review the progress in putting these safety measures into action.

In addition to the safety measures, bad weather has created further difficulties in the state. On Tuesday, last week, 112 roads were shut down due to severe weather conditions. The Meteorological Centre in Shimla noted snowfall in Hansa and Koksar, located in the Lahaul and Spiti area, while the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued an orange alert warning of thunderstorms with lightning, hail, and gusty winds reaching 30-40 km/h in certain places. This warning emphasises the need for safety and caution for those engaging in adventure sports or travelling through the region.

Despite the need for strict safety requirements, adventure enthusiasts still have a range of options for river rafting in Himachal Pradesh, if they wish to explore— The Beas River in Kullu Valley is popular among both beginners and experienced rafters, offering a range of rapids in a breathtaking setting. 

The Satluj River near Shimla is another favourite, known for its thrilling rafting routes through picturesque landscapes. For more challenging experiences, rafters can explore the Ravi River in Chamba, the Chenab River in the Lahaul Valley, or the Spiti River in the Spiti Valley.

The proactive approach by the High Court on safety in river-based sports, including setting an age limit for adventure activity in HP, reflects a wider dedication to ensuring the safety of both tourists and operators, while also considering the impact of how weather conditions can affect the infrastructure and adventure tourism industry of Himachal Pradesh.

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