Tour operators threaten to boycott Tiger Hill in protest against traffic norm

Darjeeling: Tour operators and transporters have threatened to boycott the world famous sunrise spot Tiger Hill as a mark of protest against the new traffic system implemented by the Darjeeling Police from September 1.

The Darjeeling police has restricted the number of vehicles to 300 daily to Tiger Hill from September 1. Coupons are issued the previous day from the traffic police office in Darjeeling town. Vehicles without valid coupons are not allowed to Tiger Hill. The system has evoked much criticism from the travel and transport stakeholders.

On Thursday, a team representing the travel and tourism industries of this region met Tourism Minister Goutam Deb in Siliguri and handed him a memorandum appealing for a roll back.

Following the meeting, the representatives talking to mediapersons threatened to call for a boycott of Tiger Hill.

"As the response from the Tourism Minister was not very positive, we feel that we are not left with other options than to call for a boycott of Tiger Hill. We will appeal to all taxi and tour operators to boycott. However we request the Tourism Minister to review this system that has been forcefully imposed without consulting the stakeholders," stated SN Pradhan, president, Himalayan Transport Coordination Committee.

He stated that the stakeholders had reviewed the ground situation prevalent at Tiger Hill. "The Forest department is coming up with five new parking spots where more than 1000 vehicles can be parked. These parking spots will become operational by September 15. Along with this we will be visiting Tiger Hill with Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) officials and engineers on Sunday to survey an abandoned road in Tiger Hill. This road will be repaired. Vehicles will ply on this road to the tower, drop passengers and come down the existing way to the parking spots. This way there will be no jams," claimed Pradhan.

"Tiger Hill is not a restricted route like Nathula. Instead of imposition they should talk to stakeholders and come up with a proper system. Otherwise the Tourism Minister should stop promoting Darjeeling," stated Pradeep Lama, Spokesperson of the West Bengal Tourism Forum.

A meeting of the police, district administration, GTA and stakeholders is in the offing.

"A meeting will be convened by the District Magistrate soon in Darjeeling with the stakeholders. We hope that an acceptable system emerges from this meeting. I will also apprise the Chief Minister of the developments," stated Deb.

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