Helicopter companies now flying to Annapurna and Machhapuchre Base Camps will be limited to rescue operations, after locals complained of environmental degradation and noise pollution caused by frequent tourist sightseeing flights.
“Constant noise and vibrations from flights is disturbing bird and wildlife species in protected areas and affecting our biodiversity, which is why we have decided to restrict helicopters,” said the Chairperson of Annapurna Village Yuvaraj Kunwar.
The regulation will come into effect from mid-August and violators will reportedly be punished. The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), which manages ecotourism in the region, had earlier tried to restrict helicopers without permits but helicopter companies openly flouted the rules. The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act also prohibits unregulated helicopter operations.
Lately, Prabhu Helicopters had started taking sightseers on day trips to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC), and there were dozens of flights a day.
The Village Assembly has also decided to operate new trekking routes in the area for the autumn season.