Statesman news service
Darjeeling, 6 January
Come November, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) of Darjeeling will turn 60 years promoting science and art of mountaineering as an organised sports of India.
Darjeeling being the next home of Tenzing Norgay after Nepal, and only in the year Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest on 29 May 1953, the then prime minister of the country Jawaharlal Nehru had initiated the idea to form the present Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. HMI was thus founded on 4 November 1954.
Till date, the HMI of Darjeeling continues to be the pioneered mountaineering institute of India and a motivation for many to climb from peak to peak.
The rich history of HMI has been well preserved and is at display at Birch Hill, Darjeeling where the office of the institute is also located. Recently, for past seven-eight months, the institute is allegedly facing some criticisms for not having a principal. Colonel Neeraj Rana was the last principal of the HMI. The newly appointed ‘officiate principal’ of the HMI Mr Gulshan Chadha has come down stringently against any criticisms saying, “The HMI does not need to be tutored. Though HMI does not have a principal, the professionals below the rank of the principals had been diligently working ensuring that the institute&’s aims and objectives and the standards do not get diluted, and it hasn’t. My work will be to check if there has been any breaches in the vision embarked by the great founders of the institute,” said Mr Gulshan Chadha
Mr Chadha was himself the student of the institute previously and is appointed as the ‘officiate principal’ of the HMI since 2 January, this year, according to the curator Mr CN Das.
According to the website of the HMI, it says, “IT is run by an executive council headed by the minister of defence (MOD) as its president and chief minister of the state as its vice president. JS (G) & Air from MOD and principal secretary of the state sports & youth department are the two secretaries of the institute. A most experienced and competent officer from the defence forces is selected as the Principal. He is the administrative head of the Institute.” Originally hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, Mr Gulshan Chadha has worked as the director of Arunachal Pradesh-based Military Training Institute. He further ensured that, “Within the next 3 to 4 months, the principal will also be appointed."
Meanwhile, plans have already been chalked out to improve the infrastructure of the institute and the museum, said Mr Chadha. “We are trying to summon here the chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee who is the vice president of the institute during her visit to Darjeeling on 20 January,” he added. “In the coming days we will also try to work closely with the GTA and the administration to promote the adventure tourism of the Hills,” Mr Chadha said.
At HMI, approximately about 1,500-1,800 both local and national students takes mountaineering courses, states the record. Further, the projects are there to establish an audio-visual centre in the institute to create awareness to reduce the growing vulnerability of some famous trekking zones of Darjeeling like Sandakphu and others, also a new hostel for the girls, a solar lighting system, a rain water harvesting is on the cards, according to Mr Chadha.