Sikkim's plea to GJM for window period on NH blockade

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Gangtok, Jun 20 (UNI) As Sikkim remained cut off since Monday due to GJM sponsored indefinite Darjeeling bandh, the tour operators here today urged for a breather of any kind to lift blockade on NH 31-A blockade.

Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS), the umbrella body of tour operators, said the state was reeling under the impact of its sole link being blocked affecting economic activity of Sikkim.

"Not only there are 100 odd tourists standard here but many students of the state who have to appear for admission in different colleges outside the state are being affected by the blockade," said S.K.Pradhan, president TAAS.

There were also local people standard in the state, who have to meet pressing deadlines outside, said Pradhan.

"We request the GJM and concerned authorities that NH 31 A should be kept open as Sikkim woes are increasing daily. A window passage should be given to Sikkim along the highway so that supply of basic amenities should be restored", said Karma Bhutia, TAAS vice president.

Bhutia warned that such incidents did not augur well for the tourism prospects of the whole Eastern Himalayan region as Sikkim and Darjeeling are promoted as a single destination.

TAAS advisor said that international tourism will take a hit in the Sikkim-Darjeeling region due to such incidents as it had affected Nepal during its earlier turbulent period.

The tour operators also said that it was high time that Pakyong airport project in East Sikkim was expedited and other connectivity links seriously considered. Even the under process 26 seater helicopter service from Sikkim should be expedited, said TAAS.

Meanwhile, the five seater 'Pawan Hans' helicopter service from Sikkim has been flooded with desperate Sikkimese parents seeking to send their wards for admission to colleges outside the state.

Tourists and locals having urgent works were also making a beeline to use this sole service undertaken by Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC).

The chopper service has been booked till the next week.

However consistent rain and bad weather has forced the STDC to restrict the service to a minimum of three trips from today.

Due to weather conditions, the helicopter service was being used from Rangpo Mining Ground, 40 kms away from Gangtok.

STDC had organized six trips yesterday.

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