By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 18: The unsuccessful Everest expedition of the Assam Everest Expedition Group is mired in controversy.
The selection of the 11-member team of the expedition has come under scrutiny, with a State climber questioning the procedure.
“The selection procedure of Assam Everest Expedition Group 2015 was not transparent at all. Even the information furnished by the expedition group about the selection and expenditure is not true,” alleged ba Phukan, a climber from Sepon in Sivasagar district.
Addressing media persons at Guwahati Press Club today, Phukan said: “Even I had embarked on an Everest expedition on March 30, 2015 with a foreign agency Seven Summit Track (SST). It had cost me Rs 16 lakh. The agency is said to be costliest in the world. I am surprised to learn that the agency (Arun Track) through which the Assam Everest Expedition Group went for the expedition, charged more than Rs 25 lakh per climber for the same journey.”
He said he tried many a time to get selected in the Assam Everest Expedition Group 2015 as it would “curtail the expenditure cost as the State government was promoting the group”. “I had undergone a training for the expedition in 2013 in Nepal and in 2014, I went for the expedition with SST, but could not succeed. I thought I would be selected given my experience. But the selection board rejected me and so I had to mage my cost by taking a house loan from the bank,” Phukan lamented.
Phukan said that he was rejected because he was more than 40 years of age. “But I am surprised with the selection procedure. Later I saw there were persons of more than 45 years also in the team. The team had declared that the selection was done by the State government, whereas I have an RTI reply, where it was clearly said that the selection was done by Assam Mountaineering Agency (AMA) only. Even the government sent a list of persons of climbers of Assam to AMA, who had experiences, but AMA rejected all the mes. It was for the first time, where six members of the selection board itself were selected for the expedition group,” Phukan said.
He urged the State government to ensure that in future if any such team is selected, transparency is maintained so that “no one is victimized”.