The Himalayan Transport Coordination Committee (HTCC), an apex body of 62 taxi syndicates in the Hills and Siliguri, has decided not to allow taxis of other places (except for vehicles having WB 76 number plates) to take tourists around various tourist spots in Darjeeling from 1 April onwards.
It has also decided to hike the taxi fares. According to HTCC president SN Pradhan, taxis which come from Nepal, Bihar, Sikkim and other places will be allowed only to drop tourists and pick them up in Darjeeling. “They will not be allowed to take the tourists to the various tourist spots here. We will, however, not stop them if they are carrying foreign tourists as this is a matter of our country and do not want to send a wrong message,” he said.
According to Mr Pradhan, the taxis from other places not having WB 76 number plates can drop the tourists to their hotels and pick them up from their hotel for another destination. “Darjeeling taxis are also not allowed to take tourists around different tourist spots, like in Sikkim, taxis from other places are only allowed to pick and drop.
We will also not allow Siliguri taxis having WB 73 number to take tourists to the tourist spots here,” said Mr Pradhan, adding that there were people in Darjeeling who own Sikkim number vehicles and who are engaged in taking tourists for sightseeing around the town. “They will also not be allowed to take the tourists around,” he said.
He, however, said private vehicles would “not be disturbed.” “Vehicles from outside having private numbers will not be disturbed and are free to roam around at the tourist spots. We can easily make out if it is a family or tourists that the vehicle is carrying,” Mr Pradhan said. According to him, these restrictions were in place in Darjeeling about three years back, but people stopped following them slowly.
The restrictions, will, however not be there in Kalimpong and Kurseong, said Mr Pradhan. From 1 April, the HTCC has also decided to increase the taxi fares. “The transport department had decided that there would be a hike in the fares every three years, but it has been many years that the fares have not been revised.