Stakeholders are seeking better government intervention to check exploitation of tourists undertaking the arduous Kailash Manasarovar yatra each year.

In addition to the tour operated by the Union Ministry of External Affairs, there are private players who take tourists from New Delhi, via Nepal, by road to Kailash Manasarovar in Tibet. These operators place advertisements in the media and organise exhibitions in various cities to get the requisite number of tourists. A heavy fee is usually charged from the tourists.

According to rules, all those undertaking the trip should undergo a comprehensive medical examination. They should not suffer have high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, heart diseases etc.

Kerala Tourism Deputy Director B. Jayachandran Nair was among the 10-member team from the State capital which undertook the journey recently. They were part of a 69-member team got up by a Kochi-based tour operator.

Mr. Nair had brought to the notice of the State government how the operator failed in meeting the requirements during the trip. The facilities promised at the onset were not provided to the tourists, Mr. Nair said.

It is known that the Kochi-based operator only operated part of the trip and handed over a leg of the trip to a New Delhi-based operator. “There were no restrictions on age and health conditions. Those in the group were aged between 30 and 82. A medical certificate had to be produced. The organisers were ready to arrange the medical certificates,” Mr. Nair stated in his letter to the Director, Kerala Tourism.

The delay in transferring the group from the Kathmandu airport to a hotel, sub-standard accommodation at Pariyang, Manasarovar and Darchan, lack of medical care and lapses on part of the operators in providing hot water and toilet tents are described in detail in the letter.

Mr. Nair said a two-day delay in getting the baggage that had protective clothing exposed the members of the team to UV sunlight and severe cold at Nayalam.

Life-saving equipment like Gamma bags and oxygen cylinders were not provided as promised. Three women and a man had to return mid way from Saga on the advise of a Chinese doctor.

“It was due to negligence and poor handling of the situation that they had to return. Insurance cover was not provided though the money was paid,” he said.

Only 22 members of the team dared to go for the ‘Parikrama' as the organisers failed to get sherpas, satellite phones, emergency evacuation equipment, horses etc for the 52-km trip.

Mr. Nair has suggested that only registered operators be allowed to take tourists. The group should be restricted to 25 and medical certificate should be made mandatory, he said.

The Kailash Manasarovar Yatra includes a visit to Mount Kailash and the Manasarovar Lake. The yatra is arduous and involves trekking at high altitudes.

Keywords: Kailash yatra