EDITORIAL: A valid case

The government should simplify the process to ensure that the Sherpa workers are also recognized as part of the expedition

The demand of hundreds of Sherpa climbers for a summit certificate for scaling mountain peaks, including Mt Everest, is a valid one. Since last year (2016) the government has refused to recognize their feats citing a clause in the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation which bars them from obtaining such certificates.

The Regulation considers only those who have obtained a climbing permit by paying a royalty to the government as members of an expedition. But this clause guarantees certificates to some whereas it denies recognition to others who have also scaled peaks together.

Sherpa climbers are almost always the workers hired to help all climbers from around the world to climb Nepalese mountains, and without their help such expeditions are highly unlikely to succeed. The Sherpa climbers have just held a protest meeting at Everest base camp, demanding that the government issue them with such certificates.

This disqualification of the Sherpa climbers is understandable because they have not obtained a climbing permit nor have paid any royalty. The Sherpa workers are now only treated as support staff, not as climbers on par with the other expedition members despite the fact that they are on government records, just because they have not obtained a climbing permit by paying a royalty.

But the government should change the regulations and requirements so that all those who really scale mountains are entitled to such a certificate. The government should simplify the process and see to it that the Sherpa workers are also recognized as part of the expedition.

But it would be only fair to charge a much lower or nominal fee for the royalty required for these guides as they are people working for a wage. But it would be a case of discrimination and a denial of the truth to insist that the Sherpas do not get a certificate and only the foreign climbers who pay them for their crucial help get it.

The Sherpa climbers, naturally, feel neglected by their own government. They have sent a five-page memorandum to the secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and others concerned, including the Nepal Mountaineering Association and Expedition Operators’ Association Nepal.

They have not asked for a certificate for something they have not done. Without the Sherpas, mountaineering in Nepal is unthinkable and therefore their contribution to the growth of tourism, including mountaineering, in the country cannot be overemphasized. More than 400 Sherpas have reached the Khumbu region this season to accompany world climbers to the top of the world.

For example, though 256 Sherpas scaled Everest last spring season, the Department of Tourism (DoT) issued certificates only to the expeditions and their members, not to the Sherpas. This is gross injustice. A silver lining comes in the assurance of the director general of the Department of Tourism, who has said that the ministry will speed up the process of amending the regulation to take care of the genuine concerns of Sherpa climbers.

It is reported that high-altitude (above 6,500 metres) workers will be recognized as part of the expedition to get certificates. Any bureaucratic delay in mending the matter would be deplorable.

Follow traffic rules

The traffic police are all set to penalize pedestrians who violate traffic rules. This move is expected to reduce the number of traffic accidents. The traffic police say that 40 per cent of the traffic fatalities in the capital city involve pedestrians.

The Metropolitan Traffic Police Division has come up with the much needed provision for fining pedestrians who are not found sticking to the traffic rules. This move comes into effect from May 15 and is to be carried out to make the roads safer for all those who use them.

Jaywalkers would be discouraged. At present the pedestrians violate the traffic rules with impunity and action is mostly taken only against those commuting on vehicles.

Awareness amongst the public about the need for observing the traffic rules is being promoted by the division in collaboration with the National Folk and Duet Song Academy which holds folk song programmes.  Popular folk singers participate in these events   generating awareness among the pedestrians about road safety, as many are not paying heed to the traffic rules.

The pedestrians should be encouraged to strictly follow the traffic rules.