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Bengal-Sikkim ropeway in offing

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

The state tourism department is planning to introduce ropeway services between Bengal and Sikkim. According to tourism minister Gautam Deb, his department will hold discussions with the Sikkim government on this issue.

The decision comes at a time when the chairman of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Board of Administrators, Binoy Tamang, has said that the Hill body is working to introduce more ropeway services in the Hills.

The ropeway in Darjeeling town, a major tourist draw, has been shut after the lease agreement for conducting the rides expired last month. “We plan to introduce ropeway services between the two states. We will soon talk to the Sikkim government, and discussions will centre on whether the cable car service can be constructed between Namchi in Sikkim and Dooras in Bengal,” Mr Deb said here on Tuesday.

He also said that a ropeway service will be introduced near Thurbo tea estate in Mirik. “We will develop Mirik lake, and some tourist cottages would also be set up there. The ropeway will be introduced near the Thurbo tea estate,” the minister said.

He said more such ropeway services would be introduced at Mukutmanipur in Bankura district and Ayodhya Hills in Purulia to attract tourists. On the other hand, Mr Tamang recently said that the GTA is working to introduce three cable car services- -between Giddapahar and Rohini in Kurseong, Batasia and Rock Garden in Darjeeling and Delo and Relli in Kalimpong district.

“The Detailed Project Reports of the same are being readied,” he said in Siliguri on Sunday. According to him, during the Hill Business Summit in Darjeeling in March, he had highlighted the prospects and appealed to industrialists to invest on ropeway services in the Hills.

“Some investors have shown interest in constructing five-six eco-friendly cable car services,” he said. The ropeway service in Darjeeling town (SNS photo) came to a halt for eight long years from October 2003 after three cars jumped cables, killing four tourists.

The service resumed on 2 February, 2012 with the number of cabins reduced to 10 from 15. “The Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Ropeway is a heritage and it would be good if the GTA takes it over and regularises the services, while also extending up to Namchi in Sikkim,” a senior tour operator, Samrat Sanyal, said.

Meanwhile, Minister Deb said on Tuesday that the tourism department had also planned to set up museums in Darjeling and Mirik. “The state government plan to set up a university in memory of Rabindranath Tagore in Mungpo in Kalimpong district. We have also given the district administration Rs 4 crore for the facelift of the house where the bard had stayed. The renovation work is underway,” he said. Rabindranath Tagore had stayed in Mungpo on four occasions between 1938 and 1940.