Keeping in mind the upcoming tourist season, the Darjeeling Police on Thursday organised an interaction with hoteliers and transport and vehicle associations and discuss different matters related to tourists.

Among the many issues they discussed was the free flow of vehicles during the tourist season that has already started. The participants in the programme discussed the various factors that cause traffic jams in the town, the drivers’ move to not follow stoppage point rules, fleecing of tourists by some vehicles, traffic congestion mainly near tourist spots and excess charges allegedly taken by some hotels.

Addressing the gathering at a hall at Anugyalay, Darjeeling SP Akhilesh Chaturvedi said, “The tourist season is starting and traffic congestion remains. There are both long-term and short term problems, which can be improved upon. This town was made during the old era with very limited space, and there is no way more spaces can be created. Moreover, vehicles are on the rise, so is the population. There has also been an increase in the flow of tourists here, as compared to say 10- 15 years back.”

“The main problem here is that there is too much greed, which should be lessened. The tourist industry is service-oriented and the tourists should not be charged exorbitantly or misbehaved with. If you cheat them once, they will not come back, so I ask you all to treat them well,” said Mr Chaturvedi.

Raising different points, the president of the Himalayan Transport Coordination Committee, SN Pradhan, said: “A lot of problems can be solved if there is coordination among drivers and the police. I request the police that it holds such coordination meetings before the start of the tourist season to make the season successful. We know we will surely send a good message across if we work as a team.”

Mr Pradhan further took out issues like removing the system of ‘flying taxis’ in the Hills and also removing unregistered taxi syndicates to ease the traffic congestion.

On the other hand, the general secretary of the Darjeeling Association of Travel Agents, Pradip Lama, said there should be a system to check the charges taken by hotels during the tourist season.

“While the vehicle fares are checked, there is no one to check the hotel rates,” he said. Mr Lama said that though the flow of tourists is less right now as compared to the same period last year, he expressed hope that a good number of them will be here by June-end