This article is taken from Stand 223, 17(3) September - November 2019.

Simar Preet Kaur Story
The Snowflake Checkpost and the birth of an adventure sport

Things melted out of control. To fir? Try blaming the green tribunal.

Not Raju’s fault that only one pass in this endless mountain range is accessible to tourists on wheels. The only one that doesn’t discomfort urban limbs in order to reach a Himalayan snow point.

Not a bio-reserve, not a national park, not a sanctuary – no protection at all except the occasional condom seen discarded by the road – just a mountain pass thrown open to traffic for six months every year. One crucial month out of these – the one hottest in the plains – is when the tourists come. Everything was unfurling smooth as a fern in the valley, until the government formed the tribunal now heaven-bent on protecting a glacier atop the pass.

Glacier? Ha. You could fit it into your refrigerator as easily as it has been fit into the latest political agenda.

Hai hi nahi to pighle ga kaise? Who knows what rates a fictional glacier melts at, but business sure melted like a snowflake once the permit system became operational. Every day, during peak tourist season, a precious 400 permits are issued, on a website as wonky as the government that has built it. A dirty gamble that spawned a whole new industry around permits before it could save a mountain. Vehicles that manage to obtain one can auction a ride at six times the usual price.

Then the tribunal limited permits to three per vehicle ...
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