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Nepal seeking international help to settle Everest height

London, Wed, 29 Feb 2012 ANI

London, Feb 29 (ANI): The precise height of Mount Everest has been disputed ever since the first measurement was made in 1856.


In 1955, an Indian survey first recorded the broadly accepted height of 8,848m, which is also Nepal's official figure of the peak.


China had argued that the world's highest mountain was nearly 4m shorter than its official figure, contending it should be measured to its rock height.


But Nepal has said that the snow height should also be included, as with other peaks in the world.


In 1999, an American team used GPS technology and recorded a height of 8,850 metres - a figure now used by the US National Geographic Society - but again, Nepal did not accept that and continued to use its own official figure.


Now, the country is seeking help from the international community to finally settle the dispute, officials have said.


"Since we lack the capacity to do the job on our own, we are preparing a project plan with the request for donors and we will soon be sending them out," Krishna Raj BC, director general of Nepal's Survey Department, told BBC News.


He said the three-year project was finally getting underway, with much remaining to be done.


"Funding and technology have been the main constraints. We don't have, for instance, the equipment that works in a place with -45C temperature," he said.


"We basically need data from gravity instruments, levelling points and the global positioning system (GPS) to get a complete picture.


"For all these technologies to work, first there has to be infrastructure in places like the Everest base camp, and then we need to mobilise Sherpas up and down the mountain with someone who can handle all those technologies.


"And then finally, the data will have to be processed in such a way that it will be acceptable to the international scientific community," he added.


Nepali officials say even if the issue of Everest comes up during border talks, they will stick to what Nepal maintains is the official height of the mountain.


But they also say a fresh measurement has become necessary to "set the record straight once and for all."


Officials said a Danish university and an Italian NGO were already trying to help the Survey Department to make formal measurements.


But they added that these foreign organisations have limited funds and capacity to offer, and therefore more support from international community is required.


They said it was yet to be decided how much funding would be sought, and some critics have said the project may become too donor-dependent.


"The project to measure the height of the Everest is being developed in such a way that Nepalese officials and experts will have quite less say," said Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, a border expert and former director general of the Survey Department.


"This project will be basically about foreigners doing the job for us even when we have technology, software, and expertise to do so much on our own," Narayan Shrestha stated. (ANI)


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