India opens up for foreigners 137 Himalayan peaks, including Kanchenjunga

India opens up for foreigners 137 Himalayan peaks, including Kanchenjunga

NEW DELHI: The government has opened for foreigners 137 Himalayan peaks, including the mighty Kanchenjunga located at a height of 8,589 metres, for mountaineering expeditions and trekking in a major boost to tourism, officials said Wednesday. Presently foreigners have to seek permission from the ministries of defence and home to climb these peaks. With the government opening them up, foreigners can now directly apply to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation for permits.

The decision comes following a proposal from the tourism ministry. The list of peaks includes Dunagiri (7,066 m) and Hardeol (7,151 m) in Uttarakhand; Kabru South and North in Sikkim, both of which are at a height of over 7,000 metres; Mount Kailash (6400 m) in Jammu and Kashmir; and Mulkila (6,571 metres) in Himachal Pradesh.

Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel said it was a historic step, which will give a big boost to tourism. The home ministry in an order said that proposal for opening up mountaineering and trekking in all Himalayan states was under consideration. “Now it has been decided to open 137 mountain peaks located in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim to foreigners desirous of obtaining mountaineering visa for climbing, trekking on these 137 mountain peaks (sic),” it said.

Of the 137 peaks, 51 are in Uttarakhand, 24 in Sikkim, 15 in Jammu and Kashmir, and 47 in Himachal Pradesh. However, for carrying satellite phones the expedition teams have to take prior permissions from the department of telecommunication, the home ministry said, adding that all information gathered have to be shared with locals formations.

The ministry has also clarified that the teams cannot take any photos of any installations without consent and will have to limit itself to the approved routes. PTI

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