UNESCO team visits Hills to take stock of DHR's condition
Darjeeling: A six member UNESCO team is on a visit to the Darjeeling Hills. They are here to take stock of the present condition of the world heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railways.
A meeting was held between the UNESCO team and DHR officials at the Elysia Building, the DHR headquarters in Kurseong on Wednesday.
"This is a routine visit. However, the team is here after nearly 10 months," stated MK Narzary, Director, DHR.
Incidentally, DHR services were discontinued since June 11, 2017, after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha announced a renewed agitation for Gorkhaland, which commenced with Union and state government offices, followed by a 104 day long bandh since June 15. Services resumed on October 28, 2017.
The Sonada and Ghayabari stations were also torched by the agitators. "The UNESCO team discussed the condition of rolling sock, the tracks and the present state of affairs" added the Director.
The team will visit various DHR locations, including Darjeeling on Thursday. A UNESCO team is also working on a project and are preparing a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) for the DHR.
In the year 1879, work first started on the DHR, then called the Darjeeling Steam Tramways. The stretch from Siliguri to Kurseong was opened on August 23, 1880. The Siliguri to Darjeeling track was inaugurated on July 4, 1881.
The name of the rail company was then changed to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company.
The DHR does a 88 km stretch from Darjeeling to New Jalpaiguri. It starts at 398 feet at New Jalpaiguri in the plains and climbs up to 7,407 feet at the highest point at Ghoom.
It was inscribed a World Heritage Site on December 2, 1999. Recently, air conditioned coaches have been included in the DHR service from NJP to Darjeeling.