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Aarey Milk Colony, spread over 1,259 hectares of land, is an extension of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. In 1949, the land we know as Aarey was given to the Dairy Development Board of Maharashtra to shift the cattle sheds from the city to Aarey. Since then this area has been known as Aarey Milk Colony. Aarey has 27 tribal hamlets; in terms of flora and fauna, it has leopards and numerous species of birds, animals, insects, butterflies, snakes, herbs, shrubs and trees (which number more than 4 Lakh 80 thousand).

In November 2014 , morning walkers, cyclists and other regular visitors to Aarey Milk Colony found notices put up, announcing that 2298 trees in Aarey would be felled for construction of the carshed for Metro3. Citizens came together to protest against this mass felling of trees. Thus was born the Save Aarey Movement.

In December 2014 angry citizens for the first time gathered in Aarey Picnic Point area to protest against this unnecessary destruction of the city's ecology. 1200 + citizens came together again in February 2015, creating a human chain along Marine Drive. Post this event, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra announced appointment of an Expert Committee to explore other options for location of the Metro3 carshed .

The Expert Committee had 6 members; four Bureaucrats and two environmental experts from IIT and NEERI. Both the environmentalists put a dissenting note in the Committee's report, holding that Aarey is an ecologically sensitive area and rich in biodiversity. The proposed carshed location is the floodplain of the Mithi River, and construction in this area can lead to flooding in Andheri. Hence the carshed location should be shifted out of Aarey, they said .The other options for the carshed location suggested by the expert members were Kanjurmarg and Backbay in Colaba.

The Detailed Project Report prepared in 2011 for the Metro 3 Line also mentions three other options (along with the option of 33 ha land in Aarey) for the Metro 3 Carshed location: the ground in Bandra Kurla Complex, 26 Ha of land in Kalina, the Mahalaxmi Race Course. Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation ( MMRCL) always claims that the 33 ha land area in Aarey is the only suitable location for the Metro 3 Carshed.

In 2015 the NGO, Vanashakti, along with citizens, filed a petition in National Green Tribunal (NGT) praying that Aarey be declared a forest and an Eco-Sensitive Zone. NGT on 19th August 2015, ordered status quo in Aarey pending final decision on the case. MMRCL, in August 2017 started dumping debris in the Metro 3 Carshed area in Aarey, along with excavation and mud filling activities in the area. This was in contempt of Court orders and was highlighted at the NGT. On 14th May 2018, NGT again ordered against any dumping of debris, land reclamation and Tree Felling in Aarey pending final decision in the case. But MMRCL continues to violate court orders. They have cordoned off more area in Aarey on the opposite side of the carshed area and have started land reclamation. What initially started as destruction of 33 ha of forest land is now leading to destruction of a much bigger area. Citizens lodged complaints in Aarey Police Station against these violations of court orders. MMRCL has also evicted Adivasis from Prajapur Pada in Aarey to SRA Buildings. This is in violation with Tribal Rights. Adivasis have filed a petition in Mumbai High Court.

On 20th September 2018 Judges from NGT's Principal Bench decided that this matter of declaring Aarey a Forests does not come under NGT's jurisdiction and NGT directed the petitioners to withdraw application and approach the right Authorities. This has happened after 3 and 1/2 years long proceedings in National Green Tribunal.

Through an RTI in 2017, Vanashakti found a letter written by the Divisional Manager of Sanjay Gandhi National Park( SGNP). This letter indicates that Aarey Milk Colony was of a much larger area earlier, and that 2076 ha of land from Aarey Milk Colony was Transferred to SGNP in 1969. But the forest department claims that they do not have any land records related to Aarey Milk Colony.

The forest department, in 2015, had submitted a draft proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) to declare Aarey Milk Colony as an Eco Sensitive Zone. MMRCL moved an application with the MOEF and got 165 ha of land (1.65 sq km) from Aarey denotified from the Eco Sensitive Zone. The MOEF denotified an area of 1.65 sq km from the ESZ in December 2016. This decision has been challenged by Vanashakti in NGT through a different petition.

Already, a large part of Aarey Forest has been lost to different projects and construction activities. Citizens fear that with the entry of the Metro 3 carshed, better described as a railway service centre, the rest of this forest, spreading over 1259 ha, will be lost to construction activities for ever.

Mumbai City is already sinking because of the destruction of its water bodies, wetlands and mangroves. Loss of Forest area and destruction of the floodplain of the Mithi River in Aarey will lead to further destruction of the city and flooding in more new areas in Mumbai. Lakes , supplying drinking water to Mumbai are also located in Forest Areas. Vihar lake on the border of SGNP and Aarey.

The air quality of Mumbai will be seriously hit if 4000 full grown trees are removed from its last remaining green space,the Aarey forests. .

A Movement that started with the news of felling of 2298 trees has brought out more shocking details. MMRCL floated a tender document for felling of 3384 trees in Aarey Milk Colony in 2017. And number of trees that are in line for sacrifice is still increasing. Tribals have lost their homes and livelihood. Floodplain of Mithi River has been damaged and this city will finally lose 1.65 sq km of forest areas to construction activities if this Carshed is not shifted out of Aarey. Facts finding team of Citizens have also found letters that speak about Government granting 3 FSI on 33 ha (82.5 acres) of Aarey land. A design layout prepared by MMRCL for the Carshed area also has marked an area on 33 ha land for realestate prooject.

Citizens of Mumbai needs to decide what is more important for them. A peaceful and happy life in a place requires, Fresh Air, Good supply of Drinking water , accessible open spaces and flood free roads .

In a Costal city like Mumbai, when the entire world is suffering from the consequences of Global Warming a place like Aarey becomes extremely crucial for survival of the city.

Nagrik Chetna Manch (NCM) filed a Contempt Petition (21656 of 2015) on 6th July 2015 initiating proceedings for committing civil contempt of the Hon’ble by violating it’s interim orders dated 23.09.2013 and 16.03.2015 in Writ Petition (Civil) 494 of 2012 and dated 24.02.2014 in Special Leave Petition (Criminal) 2524 of 2014. The contemnors are (1) Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, Union of , (2) Swadheen S Kshatriya, Chief Secretary , (3) Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India (4) Nasim Zaidi, Chief Election Commissioner, of India.

NCM noticed that there was a spurt of directives in the last few months by both the Central and State governments violating the orders of the Supreme Court by mandating linkages of benefits to the possession of Aadhaar number. We give below a few examples for the basis of the Contempt Petition.

The Department of Electronics and Communication Technology integrated Aadhaar to draw benefits in the newly launched Digital India Program. The Ministry of Labour and Employment made Aadhaar card compulsory for ESI services. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy made Aadhaar mandatory for receiving capital subsidy. The Ministry of Rural Development made Aadhaar compulsory for MNREGA services.

The Govt. of made Aadhaar compulsory for ration services at Fair Price Shops and for school admissions and the Election Commission of India issued instructions for linking Aadhaar card with Elector’s Photo Identity Card.

In it’s interim order dated 23.09.2013 passed in WP (C) 494 of 2012, the Supreme Court had directed, “in the meanwhile no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar number and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar number voluntarily, it may be checked whether the person is entitled for it under law as it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.” In its order dated 24/03/2014 in SLP 2524/2014 filed by the Unique Identification Authority of India against the Central Bureau of Investigation and others, the Supreme Court had restrained the UIDAI from transferring any biometric information of any person to any other agency without a written consent.

Nagrik Chetna Manch has prayed for prohibition of linkage of Aadhaar number to any benefits, to end the discrimination of persons into Aadhaar and non-Aadhaar residents and restrain the from transferring any biometric information of any person from or to any other agency without specific written permission.

NCM’s Contempt Petition 21656 of 2015 in the Supreme Court

On 6th July 2015, Nagrik Chetna Manch (NCM) filed Contempt Petition bearing no. 21656 / 2015 under Art 129 & 142 of the Constitution of India read with section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971 for initiating contempt proceedings against the Contemnors for committing Civil Contempt of Hon’ble Supreme Court whereby violating it’s interim orders dated 23.09.2013 and 16.03.2015 passed in WP (C) no. 494 of 2012. As well as order dated 24.02.2014 passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court in SLP (Crl) no. 2524 of 2014. Contemnors being (1) Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, Union of India, (2) Swadheen S Kshatriya, Chief Secretary Government of Maharashtra, (3) Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India (4) Nasim Zaidi, Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India.

Earlier NCM had filed WP no. 932 of 2013 in public interest against the use of the UID number by RBI, ECI, RGI and GoI on the grounds mentioned in the WP in which notice had been issued on 19.11.2013 by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the same was tagged with aforesaid WP (C) 494 of 2012.

In it’s interim order dated 23.09.2013 passed in WP (C) no. 494 of 2012, the Hon’ble Supreme Court while feeling importance of this matter, listed it for final hearing. And also directed that in the meanwhile no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar number and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar number voluntarily, it may be checked whether the person is entitled for it under law as it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.

In an order dated 24/03/2014 in another matter Special Leave to Appeal (Crl) No.2524/2014 filed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) against the Central Bureau of Investigation () and others, the Supreme Court had restrained the UIDAI from transferring any biometric information of any person who has been allotted the Aadhaar number to any other agency without his consent in writing. The order further stated that no person shall be deprived of any service for want of Aadhaar number in case he/she is otherwise eligible/entitled. All the authorities were directed to modify their forms/circulars/likes so as to not compulsorily require the Aadhaar number in order to meet the requirement of the interim order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

Despite these orders neither the nor States and their functionaries have been complying the orders of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit. They have continued to cause suffering by continuously mandating more and more for registration and linkages to the Aadhaar. The NCM quotes a few examples of the violations by the contemnors in the Petition.

The Department of Electronics and Communication Technology, for example, launched the Digital India Program on 1st July 2015. This program integrates Aadhaar as a mandatory feature to draw any benefits. The Ministry of Labour and Employment, Govt. of India issued advertisement in for making Aadhaar card compulsory for ESI services. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India issued notice No. 5/34/2013-14/RT dated 01.01.2015 for making Aadhaar card compulsory for receiving capital subsidy. The Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India issued letter dated 18.02.2015 and again on 25.02.2015 for making Aadhaar card compulsory for MNREGA services. The Minister of Rural Development, Govt. of India answered a unstarred question on 05.03.2015 whether the Union Government proposes to link accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana with Aadhaar number to transfer subsidy and wages under MGNREGS directly indicating that “The States have been asked to take active measures to link the bank accounts of the workers with their Aadhaar numbers. In order to make use of the benefits under the PMJDY, all States have been requested to undertake an immediate drive to open Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts for all the active wage seekers who already do not have a Bank/ Post Office account in the nearest commercial Bank/ Post Offices. Wherever accounts have been freshly opened by MGNREGA workers under the PMJDY, such accounts are being linked with Aadhaar number of the beneficiaries.”

The Govt. of Maharashtra issued Cabinet Resolution dated 03.03.2015 for making Aadhaar card compulsory for ration services at Fair Price Shops. The Resolution also requires the transfer of biometric information to the Govt. of Maharashtra despite there being no consent in writing of the persons whose biometric it may be. The Govt. of Maharashtra issued GR dated 21.04.2015 for making Aadhaar card compulsory for school admissions.

The Reserve Bank of India issued letter dated 26.11.2013 for making Aadhaar card readers compulsory for all new infrastructure services.

The Election Commission of India issued letter dated 27.02.2015 for linking Aadhaar card with EPIC. This process of seeding is meaningless without discriminating, and thus causing to suffer, those without an Aadhaar.

In the meanwhile as the common man continues to suffer the Aadhaar, NCM has alleged in its Petition 932 of 2013, that the linkage of Aadhaar to various databases is destroying governance and ability to govern. NCM has also highlighted that it will end the rule of law and perhaps even compromise the sovereignty of India. Such linkage of bank accounts to Aadhaar is facilitating money laundering. Linkage of Aadhaar to the EPIC and NPR is destroying the ability to distinguish citizens from residents and giving citizenship to illegal immigrants as well as anti-nationals.

NCM in the CP filed, prays for prohibition of operations related to Aadhaar number by Contemnors forthwith and until final disposal of WP (C) no.494 of 2012, require contemnors to end suffering caused by discrimination of persons into Aadhaar and non-Aadhaar residents through the continued usage or seeding of Aadhaar by any agency and restrain the contemnors from transferring any biometric information of any person who has been allotted the Aadhaar number from or to any other agency.

Qaneez Sukhrani

Secretary, Nagrik Chetna Manch

Telephone: +919822056782

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Bare facts of the matter as reported by ANS activist Krishna Chandgude

जातपंचायतचे कौर्य : महिलेच्या योनी मार्गात मिरची ची पुड कोंबली..अंनिसमुळे गुन्हा कागदावर.

बारामती जवळील झारगडवाडी येथील हनुमंत शिंदे यांच्या मुलाचे लग्न पंचांना पसंद नसणार्‍या (स्वजातीय ) मुलीशी केले. त्यामुळे वैदू जातपंचायत ने त्यांच्या परीवारास जात बहिष्कृत केले . पुढे त्यांच्या मुलीच्या साखरपुड्यातील वर्‍हाडींना पंचांनी पिटाळून लावले.दि.19 डिसेंबर रोजी ग्रामपंचायत च्या आवारात जातपंचायत बसली.सरपंच ही हजर होते(लोकशाहीची थट्टा ! ).पुन्हा जातीत घेण्यासाठी पंचांनी पाच लाख रुपयांची मागणी केली. पिडीत परीवारास गरीब असल्याने अर्थातच त्यांनी त्याला नकार दिला. पंच चिडले.भांडण झाले. पिडीत परीवार घरी गेल्यावर पंचांनी काठ्या, कुर्‍हाड, तलवारीने हल्ला केला. परीवारील एका महिलेला अर्धनग्न करून मारहाण केली तर दुसर्‍या महिलेच्या योनी मार्गात मिरचीची पुड कोंबली. आवाज ऐकून काही गावकरी मदतीला धावून आले. मात्र आमच्या जातीचे भांडण आम्हीच मिटविणार,इतरांना तो अधिकार नाही, असे सांगून त्यांनीही मारहाण केली. शेवटी आठ गंभीर जखमींना बारामतीच्या रुग्णालयात दाखल करण्यात आले. काल अंधश्रद्धा निर्मूलन समिती च्या कार्यकर्त्यांनी पिडीत कुटुंबियांची भेट घेतली. पोलिसांनी गावकर्याची तक्रार दाखल केली मात्र पिडीतांची जबानी घेतली नसल्याचे समजले. आठ दिवस होऊनही जबाब नोंदवून घेतले नसल्याने पोलीस निरीक्षक चंद्रकांत कांबळे यांच्याशी चर्चा केली.या प्रकरणी राजकीय दबाव जाणवत होता. कारण राष्ट्रवादी काॅग्रेसचे सरपंच असुन इतर जखमी गावकरी राष्ट्रवादी काॅग्रेसचे दुसर्‍या गटाचे आहेत. पोलिसांनी पिडीतांचा पुरवणी एफआयआर व खंडणीचे 385 कलम लावण्याचे कबूल केले. लगेचच कारवाई सुरू केली. परिसरातील अन्य जातपंचायत बंद करण्यासाठी पंचांनी सुसंवाद साधण्याच्या प्रबोधन मोहिमेला त्यांनी होकार दिला.लढू या...बारामती चे 'वार' बघितले.. पवारांच्या भागातील सामाजिक न्यायाचे धिंडवडे पण पाहिले.

अधिक माहितीसाठी संपर्क कृष्णा चांदगुडे 9822630378

In Zhargadwadi near Baramati, Hanumant Shinde decided to marry his son with a girl not approved of by the local caste panchayat. As a result, the caste panchayat (an unconstitutional, social body formed along the lines of caste hierarchy) boycotted them from the caste. Further when his daughter got engaged, the caste panchayat members also chased away the groom's family members.

On the 19th of December, the caste panchayat met in the premises of the gram panchayat (the constitutional, elected representatives of the village), in the sarpanch's (chief representative) presence in a complete mockery of democracy and rule of law. There, they demanded a payment of rupees five lakh in order to reinstate Shinde's family into the caste community. The family in question being poor, naturally declined to pay the amount. The panchs (representatives) got angry and an argument ensued. When the family returned home, the panchs attacked them with sticks, axes and swords.

The panchs stripped a woman from the family naked and beat her up. They stuffed chilli powder in the vagina of another woman from the family.

On hearing the commotion, some villagers came running to assist. Declaring that this was a caste matter and that it would be dealt within the caste and others had no right to interfere, the panchs also attacked the villagers who had come to help.

In the end, eight grievously injured villagers were admitted to the hospital in Baramati.

Members of the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti met the villagers to understand the case. The police have recorded a complaint but not the statements of those injured. Since it had been eight days since the incident without statements of the victims being recorded, the ANS workers met Police Inspector Chandrakant Kamble. They realized that there was political pressure being exerted to suppress the case. The sarpanch in question belonged to the Nationalist Congress party while the injured villagers were not.

Baramati is the stronghold of the Nationalist Congress Party and Supriya Sule, the daughter of the Chairman of the Party, Sharad Pawar is the elected Member of Parliament from the constituency.

The police took the statements of the injured and promised to apply section 385 to the case and started proceedings accordingly. Panchs committed to strike dialogue to shut down caste panchayats in the region.

Observations and questions

The section applied by the police is 385 which states:

385. Putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extor­tion.—Whoever, in order to the committing of extortion, puts any person in fear, or attempts to put any person in fear, of any injury, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

This essentially amounts to the legal case being reduced to scaring the injured party and extorting money from them. However, there are several other things that are illegal that happened - caste discrimination and crime, assault, outraging the modesty of a woman and RAPE. The police appear to not notice this. In effect, the criminals roam free still.

Proper sections of the IPC need to be applied against the accused in the case and the police officials in question must be investigated as accomplices to the crime who are essentially contributing their effort to let the criminals flee after the crime. The elected representatives who misused their authority to enact a crime must be removed from office and arrested. Failure to do this should result in investigation of pressure leading to inexplicable refusal to uphold the law of the land.

I will post updates as more information becomes available or developments happen. In the meanwhile, you can demand accountability from the government of Maharashtra and the leadership of the Nationalist Congress Party. The more attention the case gets, the less likely it will be to be brushed under the carpet and the safer those fighting for justice will be.

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A long overdue step toward bringing in standards in advenure sports took off when the Government of Maharashtra issued norms as a Government Resolution applicable to individuals and organizations offering adventure tours. While the initial rules are better than expected, largely due to trekking organizations impleading themselves into the case by Anil Mahajan that led to the Bombay High Court directive, this must be seen as an initial step, that also will require much refinement before a desirable state of regulation without suffocation can evolve.

There is no doubt that operators of dubious competence endanger lives of people seeking adventure. However, it is important to recognize that there are few specific qualifications that could apply to many of the tours on offer and most of the competence of even the best of professionals in the adventure sector comes from experience and hobby that lead to no certification.

The GR has a mixed reception from what I have observed in the adventure fraternity. Well established businesses with large turnovers have little to worry about (other than availability of instructors with qualifications specified - who will be rare for a while yet). However smaller businesses and organizers are in a quandry even as they recognize the need for regulation for the sake of safety. There are still other hobbyists who are not comfortable with the need to register with authorities for every hike (something many people do every weekend in this region) and see this as a created opportunity for corruption.

Several valid questions raised include:

What distinguishes a hike from a picnic or other trip?

Many trekking locations are also popular spots for picnics or local festivals. Often, picnicers are found drinking alcohol and littering the place with both trash as well as dangerous glass from broken bottles. Trekking groups are the ones usually organizing clean up campaigns. Yet these guidelines will do little to prevent risky behavior by individuals, while forcing paperwork deterrents on organizations going to the same place with far more competence - for reasons of safety. Additionally, such trips will be forced to provide medical and evacuation plans which will add to costs and result in more trips conducted as unofficial picnics bypassing regulations resulting in little actual safety on the ground. It will be impossible to regulate free movement of people to picnic spots of their choosing and again be difficult to discriminate them with any sensible logic from pilgrims and other travelers to the same spots.

Qualifications

There are few qualifications that can apply to professionals in several kinds of adventure tours. While specific sports - like rock climbing, skiing or rafting have specific training courses available, most trekkers learn trekking by trekking and it is difficult for someone who has trekked for decades and is likely more competent than someone merely doing some mountaineering course to prove competence on paper. Further complications arise when it comes to trips out of the state. For example, consider a rafting trip on the Kali (Karnataka) or an adventure camp in Manali which will feature skiing and paragliding as activities. What qualifications should the instructors provided from Mumbai or Pune (for example) have? They will essentially be escorting travel, with local adventure operators providing the specific expertise for the activities. Why would they need more qualifications than any other tour operator? On the other hand, with local guides not requiring registration, there remains absolutely no guarantee of competence outside the state in any case, unless the operator is large enough with rich enough clients who will bear the costs of qualified instructors from Maharashtra accompanying every batch - who will not be allowed by local operators to run the activity on their setup in any case - because they will have established teams with smooth operations.

Worse, there are no qualifications that cover many kinds of competencies required on adventure tours, and responsible operators usually hire based on their knowledge of competence of people in key roles. These may not necessarily have the competencies on paper.

Innovation

Like any other field, the adventure field too goes through innovations. Rock climbing and rappelling trips that cannot be done in monsoons gave away to waterfall rappelling in the Sahyadri region. Skiing and snow boarding at snow points at Rohtang gave away to sliding down mountain slopes sitting tight in inflated truck tires. Is sliding down a snow slope on an inflated tire adventure or fun? Is sliding down the same slope on a snowboard adventure or fun? Will a team game involving a team building a makeshift raft and crossing a pond require an instructor trained in rafting or swimming coach? Is it adventure or not? Most operators experiment on themselves, and learn the risks before taking another through the experience. But with these regulations, that will not be enough. Too many regulations will strangle the joy of innovation - either for fear of legal consequences or for lack of qualifications to fit every need.

How unsafe is unsafe

Treating all adventure sports as being equally unsafe is a bit immature. Hiking in the Sahyadri is something entire generations of mountaineers grew up doing each weekend. When I was an active hiker, it was common to leave home intending to go on a trek and eyeball various groups waiting for the last train to Karjat at Dadar station to make a decision on which trek it will be. With these rules it will be impossible. I will need to register on Friday before offices close in order to be able to attend a weekend hike. No more spontaneous "gimme a breath of green". On the other hand, I can't remember half a dozen people who died on hikes in over two decades of being involved in the outdoors. Can't say the same or drivers on roads. Yet, you wouldn't dream of asking people to apply for permission each time they want to drive!

On the other hand, the unpredictable winds make paragliding at Solang Nallah uncommonly risky - particularly in early summer - peak Maharashtrian tourist season, and it has been banned and allowed dozens of times over the years, balancing safety concerns with public demands and livelihoods. It keeps boiling down to the competence of instructors and locally evolved rules for stopping flights in unpredictable weather. Yet these rules can't do a thing about ensuring safety there. Even a trained flier from Maharashtra would lack knowledge of prevailing wind patterns in a new place.

Also, how exactly would local authorities ensure safety of those registering with them? Knowing who to call in case of an accident? That can be managed with far fewer headaches.

Medical safety

Given India's pathetic doctor to patient ratio, it takes Alice in Wonderland to expect doctors escorting every adventure tour. Assuming all doctors in Maharashtra were willing to escort adventure tours, the chances are we'd still have more adventure tours than doctors.

There are few mountain first aid courses, and many of them are for knowledge and don't offer certificates in the end. They may, in the future, but the instructors competent in first aid currently often have no papers to prove it. The guidelines also fail to recognize that many adventure training includes first aid. Basic and Advanced mountaineering courses in the Himalaya include training for the mountains and high altitudes, for example. Advanced rock climbing courses (at least the one I did) include things like rock face rescues using ropes systems, and so on. It can easily be made mandatory for all adventure courses to include first aid training rather than requiring separate courses that cannot accommodates specific risk factors of each sport.

Evacuation is something that needs more elaboration. Many really risky places don't have phone coverage. Are we saying every organization must be forced to buy satellite phones? Even if calls for assistance are made, the first responders are usually "whoever is available and near" this can mean villagers, other adventure groups, the Army, helicopters, evacuation by the group members of the casualty themselves... and it is most efficient. It is difficult for me, as someone who has been in a lot of extreme adventure situations to understand how this can be predicted and guaranteed on paper. The only medical emergency of my career involved me helping a woman down a mountain to lose altitude fast. She was 15 kilos heavier than me, but I still carried her part of the way. Ended up with bad knees for a week myself after that. Where in the form would the readiness to do this be written? Merely writing that there would be a vehicle waiting hardly matters. Most trips using vehicles have the vehicle waiting, trips not using vehicles will have a considerable added expense to be forced to use vehicles on the possibility that an evacuation may be needed (remember, hiking is safer than driving?).

Age restrictions

The age restriction of participants of adventure tours going 3000m and above must be above 16 years came less than a month after Malavath Purna, a 13 year old daughter of a poor farmer from Andhra Pradesh got felicitated for climbing Everest. Are we saying that Maharashtra's children must not do such things? Or that they may, but they must not be organized by Maharashtra's adventurers? The concern has solid basis. Younger people can be more sensitive to high altitudes and hypothermia, for example. At the same time, mandating presence of a competent (read qualified for high altitudes) guardian personally (not necessarily parent or relative, but responsible personally) or stricter enforcement of presence of doctors or other measures may be wiser than forbidding the opportunity to all below sixteen with not even a process to apply for exceptions provided.

Concerns about corruption

Many regular hikers worry that the need for registering every trip will lead to a flourishing business for touts and agents, as few of the free spirited mountaineers have the time or inclination to stand in queues as a matter of routine. There are also concerns of extortion by police or other authorities by citing some or the other nearly impossible to fulfill conditions for hobby hikers.

Equipment

Given the requirements of quality standards of improvement and given that India neither has approved standards, nor consequently manufacturers that follow them, this will result in groups being forced to pay three times the cost of perfectly safe and acceptable equipment produced in India. There is nothing wrong with Indian ropes, harnesses and helmets (among other things) for example. But there being no standard, ALL INDIAN MANUFACTURERS will be forced to get certification in some foreign country where they don't do business (harness and rucksack manufacturers often operate small businesses from slums producing good equipment), or fall short of requirements to sell in India. Further, the blanket lifespans stated have to be a joke. You could probably use a karabiner for more than 10 years easily, and cycle out your long tyrolean traverse rope within a season or two. There needs to be some sanity here for the guidelines to be useful.

Livelihoods

Given that most adventure professionals have very poor incomes (the dazzle rarely translates to reliable incomes - most are adventurers doing it compromising stable incomes for love) there need to be standards of payment along the lines of minimum wage as well, if instructors are expected to spend money getting qualified. Additionally, till qualifications can be "rolled in", reference certificates of competence by senior professionals (should be defined in some manner - in position to hire professionals for more than 5 years?) should be considered valid. Given that waiting lists for many of the best qualifications are long (2 year waiting for a 9k basic mountaineering course at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering Uttarkashi, for example), registration confirmation should be considered for temporary licences to operate in non-critical roles, as it is beyond unreasonable for a person living from paycheck to paycheck to spend 9 thousand rupees (and about twice that preparing, traveling, etc) and wait two years to be eligible to earn anything.

Too urbanized

Most adventure sport happens outside urban settings. There is a possibility to improve rural incomes as well as effectiveness of the norms by involving panchayats at locations of adventure sport destinations in maintaining records of visitors arriving. This will provide for emergency action information being available at the closest point as well as allow spontaneous hikers the flexibility and monitor ALL visitors including spontaneous outings. Exempting local guides from accountability does not make sense, since local guides are often the most knowledgeable professionals on a trip. Registering local guides and porters available for trekking routes locally will result in better employment, standardized wages and accountability.

In my view, these questions are valid. Equally important and appreciation deserving is the fact that the initial guidelines have made a commendable attempt toward enforcing important things. Making indemnity forms mandatory, for example is a small and easily applicable step that will immediately result in responsible disclosure of risks as well as putting emergency contacts on record. On the other hand, these norms STILL cannot prevent a death on a high altitude trek because of incompetence - the original subject of the PIL that led to the directive for the regulations.

It will be a while before bureaucracy and free spirit find a meeting point that is also practical to implement as well as meets objectives. It will not be easy. However, things must not stop here and the exercise must be taken to conclusion resulting in norms that allow adventure sport to thrive in Maharashtra while also insisting on responsible operations and recognizing that adventure has an inherent element of risk. The goal is a robust and accountable community, not sterilization.