ULA flight spurs row in Pokhara

Himalayan News Service

Pokhara, May 16:

Avia Club Nepal has done a test flight of Ultra Light Aircraft (ULA) on Saturday at a time when the tourism entrepreneurs, boatmen and locals were against such flight around the Phewa lake. The test flight was done at northwestern area of Phewa Lake at Camping Square. Experts have researched on the adverse effects caused on environment by this flight, said Dipti Gurung, manager of the club. "We are currently on test and if it results in environmental hazard, we would not continue it," she added. An interaction was also organised during the test flight and the representatives from local tourism sector took part in the interaction. Stephen Shrestha, pilot of the club, said that since Pokhara is a tourist city, such service has a good future.

Harka Bahadur Gurung, mayor of the Pokhara Sub-metropolis, said that he gave the permission to start the service eyeing a huge potential of tourist attractions towards this sport. He said that the club has the permission only for the test flights currently. However, the tourism entrepreneurs and boatmen are against the decision of the municipality. Even Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), NATA, TAN and other organisations have raised serious concerns on the issue. The Phewa Beach and Environment Conservation Committee (PBECC) of Baidam said that it would have adverse effect on the aquatic and land animals in and around the Phewa lake. Moreover, the petrol used as fuel in the airplane would drip in the lake causing water pollution and the waves created by the plane on the water would possibly effect the boats.

Mahesh Bhattarai, chairman of the committee, said that the plane would also increase noise pollution. Krishna Giri, secretary of Phewa Boatmen Entrepreneur Association (PBEA), is also against the operation of this service. "We are protesting to save the environment and the aquatic animals," he said, adding that the club should take the permission of DDC before starting the operations. But he said "We would not let this service to continue even if the DDC permits." However, Avia Club said that the flight will lure more tourists to the district. Pilot Shrestha said that the plane would take off and land with minimal sound. "These types of aircrafts are used for researching fishes in other countries," he informed.