Darjeeling strike affects tourism

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Siliguri, Nov 23 (UNI) The controversy over the imposition of the Sixth Schedule in Darjeeling Hills and neighbouring Sikkim has badly affected tourism in the region, Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators' Association general secretary Samrat Sanyal said.

The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) yesterday called for a 108-hour strike in Kalimpong to press for the inclusion of Darjeeling hills and its adjacent areas in the Sixth Schedule while the All India Gorkha League today convened a 24-hour strike to oppose the demand.

The situation turned more complicated as the newly-formed Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha called a 96-hour strike throughout the hills starting yesterday, opposing the Sixth Schedule.

Due to the strike, the NH 31 A, the only way into Sikkim, has been blocked since yesterday.

Tour operators have reacted sharply saying that the strikes have affected the tourism activities in the region. '' Hotels generally enjoy almost 60 per cent occupancy and will be hit hard due to this political uncertainty,'' they said.

Speaking on the issue, Deputy Director of West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Gopal Lama said, ''Every such strike creates problems for the common man. The district administration should be cautious in avoiding any untoward incident, especially where tourists are concerned.'' UNI XC LL/SRC PB DB1352

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