Negligence blamed for paragliding death in Pokhara

Pokhara, November 11

Before the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Pokhara, local administration had issued a directive to halt paragliding flights in the city on November 4.

Despite the ban, Blue Sky Flying School, a training school which had been launching its flight training from Kaski’s Sarangkot, led trainees to Swarek of Syangja without informing the Pokhara Civil Aviation office, when the school had obtained a permit to do so from Tanahun’s Bandipur only.

On the fateful day, trainee Shailesh Pahari, 25, of Lakeside, lost control of his glider and collided with a tree.

Pahari breathed his last as he could not receive timely treatment.

Though it is not unusual to incur injuries during the course of training, it is the first loss of life in the paragliding history of Nepal and has been attributed to the negligence of the training school.

Around three months ago, CAAN, ruling that the training schools could operate from outside Pokhara only, had given permission to Babu Adventure Paragliding School and Blue Sky Flying School to conduct flights from Syangja’s Swarek and Tanahun’s Bandipur respectively.

Nepal Paragliding Pilots Club General Secretary Mitra Bastola had strongly opposed this decision, describing both places as unfavourable for training. “The wind speed is extreme at times in these places.

Besides, there have been many accidents in Swarek alone in the past because the landing place is far from the training site,” he said. Bastola attributed the death of the injured trainee to lack of safety precautions.

“Pahari could have been saved had he been taken to hospital on time but due to the difficult geographical terrain, it took over four hours from him to receive medical attention,” he said.

“The Blue Sky training school conducts its training sessions from walkie-talkie to radio in group settings. In my opinion, such training should be done on a one-to-one basis to ensure full comprehension on the trainee’s part,” he said.

The training school had illegally hired two foreign trainers without mandatory government-issued work permit.

Paragliding Pilots Club on Tuesday submitted a memorandum with regard to the Swarek incident to the Western Regional Police Chief DIG Kamalsingh Bam.

DIG Bam pledged to do the needful to remove the weaknesses.