Hill transporters unite against 'coupon system' for entry to Tiger Hill, threaten agitation
Darjeeling: The transporters' associations of Darjeeling have given a clarion call to all drivers to discard the coupon system of the police and not to collect passes to Tiger Hill from Wednesday. They have also threatened to launch an agitation if the system is not rolled back by Saturday.
Incidentally, the Darjeeling police have implemented a number of changes to the traffic system from September 1 to ease the traffic problem that the town faces, especially during tourist season.
"We request all drivers not to collect coupons to Tiger Hill from Wednesday as we do not support this system. The system has to be rolled back in the next two days. The administration and police have assured us that this was a trial and that a review meeting would be called soon. If the review meeting is not called then on Saturday we will hold a meeting with the stakeholders and announce our agitation programmes. We could even drive up to Tiger Hill without coupons and if they turn us back we might leave our vehicles there and return," threatened S N Pradhan, president, Himalayan Transport Coordination Committee.
The Darjeeling police have capped the number of vehicles to the world famous sunrise point Tiger Hill at 300 from September 1. Coupons are issued the previous day from the traffic police office in Darjeeling town to visit Tiger Hill.
A drop gate has been put up at Jorebungalow on the access road to Tiger Hill, where police conduct checks. Vehicles without valid coupons are not allowed to Tiger Hill.
Recently, a team representing the travel and tourism industries of this region met state Tourism minister Gautam Deb in Siliguri and handed him a memorandum appealing for a rollback. The minister had subsequently assured them of a review meeting.
"We had even given a memorandum to the Superintendent of Police. The whole of Darjeeling depends on tourism directly
or indirectly. This system is just causing glitches and is not practical. It has to be rolled back immediately," said Pradeep Lama, spokesperson of the West Bengal Tourism Forum.
The travel trade industry representatives claim that with the Forest department allotting space for car parking at Tiger Hill, around 1,000 vehicles can fit without causing a traffic snarl.
The police have called for a meeting with the stakeholders on Saturday at 11:30 am in the conference hall of the Police Lines, Dali. "Our system will stay in place. We will not allow any vehicles without valid passes," stated Dorjee Sherpa, Traffic OC.