The Department of Tourism (DoT) has issued a notice today informing that distribution of mountain guide license has been halted until further notice.

Stating that the court has issued an order to halt the licence distribution for now, the department said that all the works related to the distribution of identity cards have been postponed until further notice.

The department had recently started issuing mountain guide licence to make Nepal's mountain tourism more professional, dignified and systematic.

The first licence was given to the world record climber Kami Rita Sherpa.

According to the department, the mountain guide licence distribution, which was started with the objective of regulating the mountaineering sector and make it more professional, has been postponed due to court order.

The department has so far issued more than 110 licences on the basis of recommendation of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) and after ensuring the applicants meet certain criteria set by the DoT. The department estimates that about 1,500 people are eligible to get the licence.

On March 24, the Supreme Court had issued an interim order not to issue licences to mountain guides on the basis of Nepal Mountaineering Association certification. The DoT had issued a notice on March 10 stating that mountaineering guides could obtain the licence by submitting the certificate of mountaineering guide issued by the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training or a red book provided by the NMA.

Advocate Praveen Kharel, representing 43 people, had filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court against the DoT's criteria for providing licences to mountaineering guides. Prosecutors and defence lawyers have been called to the apex court to discuss the pros and cons of the licence issuance criteria set by the DoT on March 31.

Meanwhile, the DoT has issued expedition permits for nine peaks so far. According to the department, a total of 81 climbers have received permission to climb nine peaks. Of them, one team with four members has received expedition permit for Mt Nuptse, one team with one member has received permission for Mt Manaslu and one team with five members has received expedition permit for Mt Lhotse.

Similarly, three teams have received permission for Mt Annapurna. Of them, two teams have 15 members each, while one team has 10 members.

Similarly, for Mt Everest, three teams have received permission. Of them, two teams are of Bahraini Royal Guard Expedition team, including 16 members and eight members in each team. Meanwhile, one team with 15 members has received permission to climb Mt Everest for this spring season.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 31, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.