Palampur, November 21
A 30-year-old resident of Mumta in Nagrota Bagwan sub-division of Kangra district died on the spot after he fell from a paraglider near Bir on Sunday.
Official sources said the safety harness and belts of the glider were not properly tightened by the pilot who accompanied victim Sandeep Chaudhry before taking off from Billing.
Minutes after takeoff, the belts and harness went loose and Sandeep fell from nearly 150 ft on the roof of a house near Bir and died on the spot.
Pilots are reportedly not following safety guidelines leading to such fatal mishaps as owing to heavy tourist inflow proper checks are hardly maintained.
It is learnt that there is one supervisor appointed by Special Area Development Authority (SADA) to manage the affairs at the paragliding site. Besides supervising the paragliding activities at Bir and Billing, the supervisor has also been assigned multiple jobs by the government.
In the past five years, over 30 gliders have crashed at different places in Kangra and adjoining Mandi district after taking off from Billing, killing 10 pilots, including foreigners.
Several organisations and victims’ kin have demanded a complete ban on paragliding till proper rules are incorporated, pilots are directed to adhere to safety guidelines and separate agency is constituted by the state government to implement the same.
Last year, Rohit Badhoria, a Delhi-based pilot, was killed in a paragliding mishap. His body was recovered after seven months from the higher areas of Dhauladhar hills.
A Canadian pilot, Cheval Christian Yaves Mare, was also killed when his paraglider crash-landed near Bir. Cheval was flying alone when the tragedy occurred. He had no knowledge of the topography of the Dhauladhar ranges which led to the mishap.
In February 2020, a 24-year-old paraglider, Akshaya, and co-pilot Shyam Lal were killed. Both had taken off from Billing and were not trained.
In 2018, a Singaporean pilot, Kok Chang, had died after his glider crash-landed in the higher areas of the Dhauladhars after he took off from Billing. His body was spotted by rescue teams after many days. Earlier, two Russian pilots were killed in similar mishaps.
Two years back, Max Kent McGowan, a US pilot, remained stranded in snow-covered mountains for 60 hours after taking off from Billing when his glider moved in the wrong directions bordering Chamba district. He had to land at Bir after two hours but heavy rain, snowfall and high-velocity wind forced him to land in high mountains. He had neither insurance cover nor permission from the administration to fly.
Baijnath SDM Salem Aazam said an inquiry had been ordered to probe the circumstances which lead to the mishap.
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