Supreme Court stays transfer of NMA peaks to govt control
KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court of Nepal has stayed a government’s decision to bar the country’s only alpine club, Nepal Mountaineering Association, from handling 33 mountains that range from Mt Chhukung Ri (5,550m) to Shigu Chuli (6,501m).
In response to a writ petition filed the Nepal Mountaineering Association, a single bench of justice Om Prakash Mishra on Tuesday issued an interim order against the implementation of the decision taken by the Council of Ministers on October 9 to bar the NMA from issuing climbing permits for mountains, something it has been handling since 1977.
“The Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation have been ordered to put the decision on hold till the final verdict is announced,” the apex court order reads.
The decision has already sparked controversy among the mountaineering stakeholders as the Ministry authorised the Department of Tourism to issue climbing permits ending a nearly four-decade-long monopoly of NMA on different trekking and expedition peaks.
Though there were serious concerns about the transparency of millions of rupees the country’s oldest alpine club annually collected from the world climbers, some also feared that there would be more bureaucratic hurdles that mountaineers would have to face while obtaining climbing permits from DoT.
“NMA and the mountaineering community welcome the Supreme Court order,” NMA President Ang Tshering Sherpa commented. The NMA had moved to the Supreme Court after the government ministries and agencies repeatedly ignored its call to review such untimely move, he added.
Depending on the range and altitude of peaks, the NMA had fixed permit fee up to US$ 250 for each foreign climber.
After its establishment in 1973, the NMA had been handling 15 expedition peaks and 18 climbing peaks since 1977.
The NMA annually collected over US$ 5 million as fees from climbers attempting to summit 27 peaks, while six other peaks were declared royalty-free last year.
Being a non-governmental, non-profit and non-political organisation, the NMA has been mandated to work as a national alpine association to promote mountain tourism, climbing sports and protect mountain environments.
The NMA has also been supporting the children of deceased Sherpa mountaineering workers for many years in different districts.