WB tour operators to block vehicular movement into Sikkim on Dec 26

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Gangtok, Dec 24 (UNI) Tourism stakeholders from the other side of the Rangpo border today warned of blockade of vehicular traffic on NH 31A, the lifeline of Sikkim, on December 26.

West Bengal Tourism Forum, a recently constituted body of tour operators from Darjeeling and other parts of North Bengal, said they will be organising blockades in the border areas of Sikkim on Wednesday.

The blockade is to protest against the Sikkim government's recent 'unnecessary' rule, restricting the entry of taxis from West Bengal and other parts of the country in Gangtok.

''We had written a letter to the Sikkim chief minister stating that our vehicles should be allowed to drop visitors at hotels and ferry them on sight-seeing trips,'' said Pradip Lama, a member of the West Bengal Tourism Forum at Darjeeling yesterday.

''Since the government had not responded, we have decided to organise blockades in the border areas on December 26,'' Mr Lama was quoted as saying in different newspapers.

The tour operators from Darjeeling and Siliguri were up in arms after Sikkim government made two changes in taxi movement in the Capital from December 1.

Sikkim police had shifted the stand of mainline taxis and private buses, plying from outside the state, to the new Deorali stand on December 1, three kms from the heart of the town.

These vehicles have also been restricted from entering Gangtok during 'peak traffic hours' from 0800 hrs to 1800 hrs.

However, all vehicles are permitted to enter Gangtok beyond Deorali from 1800 hrs to 0800 hrs the next day, for the convenience of the passengers and tourists, said police.

This relocation of the main line taxis and private buses stand had been felt 'necessitated' by the increasing traffic volumes in the town and the ongoing repair of MG Marg and its proposed conversion to a vehicle free zone, Sikkim police said.

Not satisfied with the arrangements, the West Bengal Tourism Forum said there was no option left after the government failed to find a solution to the problem even after one week's time.

''We might set up blockades in Siliguri as well to stop Sikkim vehicles from taking tourists to the New Jalpaiguri railway station,'' said Mr Lama.


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