The government has raised the insurance amount of the high altitude workers and the mountaineering guides to Rs 1.5 million. Earlier it was one million rupees. Along with that the government has also raised the medical insurance for such workers to Rs 400,000 from 200,000. These new provisions came into effect from September 1.
High altitude workers, which are mostly Sherpas, had gone on strike demanding security and safety, after a deadly avalanche in Mt. Everest on April 18 this year claimed lives of16 Sherpas. Their protest raged following dissatisfaction with the compensation provided to the family of the deceased.
“This decision was taken following mountaineer support staffs’ threat to ban all mountaineering activities if the government failed to fulfil their demands,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). Sherpa hoped that the decision would encourage mountaineering staffs.
The increment, however, does not meet the demand of the agitating Sherpas. They had pitched in for increasing the life insurance amount to two million rupees. The government pointed to the insurance policy’s ceiling of Rs 1.5 million on life insurance. NMA has called for reviewing the insurance policy itself to accommodate the workers' demands. Along with that it has also urged the government to hike the amount of rescue insurance, which presently is $ 10,000, Sherpa said.
Commenting on the possible impact of the hike, Sherpa said that the cost of mountain expedition packages might also increase by around 10 – 15 per cent and claimed that it will directly impact the total number expeditions held in the Nepali mountains.
In 2012 a total of 310 expeditions were given permit to climb various peaks across the country while the number had slipped down to 298 expeditions in 2013. Mt Everest is the highest revenue earner among these peaks. In 2013, Mt. Everest expeditions generated revenue of around Rs 280 million and in 2012 the amount was around Rs 270 million. According to NMA, Mt Everest contributes total royalty of Rs 320 – 330 million annually to the country’s economy.