'Himalayan motor rally not safe'

The 14th edition of the Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya, one of the world’s toughest motor rallies, lacks preparedness to handle disasters. The organiser is not equipped to clear an accident site expeditiously, rally participants said on Monday.

Shimla-based Himalayan Motorsport Association, organiser of the rally since its inception, denied the allegations and claimed that it provides a world-class safety apparatus and is equipped to airlift victims in case of an accident.

“The rally lacks even basic safety requirements like first-aid boxes. Also, the distance between one stationed ambulance and another is too much. It’s not possible to reach the accident site quickly,” said a participant.

The rally was flagged off in Shimla on Sunday, and reached Manali in evening. A participant said Rajeev Khanna, 57, grandson of Oberoi Group founder M S Oberoi, was injured in the first leg of the rally.

“The incident highlighted shortcomings of the organiser. There is not even a first-aid kit,” said the participant. However, the organiser said they had come to Khanna’s rescue in the shortest possible time.

Motorsport enthusiasts have been expressing concern over safety of rallyists after two motorists participating in the Mughal Rally — another annual event organised by HMA — lost their lives in July this year. It was alleged that they could not be rescued on time.

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