The chairman of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), Binoy Tamang, has proposed four alternative routes that would connect Darjeeling with Sikkim. Mr Tamang proposed the routes to Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling during a meeting the two leaders had in Gangtok on 27 March.
Addressing reporters here on Sunday night, Mr Tamang also said that Mr Chamling had accepted his proposal for a tourist circuit comprising Sikkim and Darjeeling.
“Now there is this question of road connectivity,” he said, adding, “Sikkim planned to develop the Lopchu-Peshok route to connect the state with Darjeeling. During the meeting with the chief minister in Gangtok on 27 March, I proposed him to be ready for four alternative routes,” Mr Tamang said.
“A bridge will be constructed at Lodhoma in the Bijanbari Block in Darjeeling that would connect the Hills with the neighbouring state. It will be a joint effort of the Sikkim government and the GTA. I visited the spot on Saturday. The earlier plan for the same route was not executed owing to a lack of no-objection certificate from Darjeeling. We will issue such a certificate next week for the construction of a bridge there,” Mr Tamang said.
“The second route is the Jorethang-Nayabazar and Singla link. Thirdly, we want to construct another bridge at Majitaar that will connect Darjeeling and Sikkim,” he said, adding, “If we construct a bridge there, road connectivity will be developed between Darjeeling and Sikkim.”
“The fourth route is via Badamtam. A 20-metre bridge is required from Shanti Basti there to connect with Sikkim,” he claimed. He also told reporters that there will not be bandhs/shutdowns on National Highway- 10, the lifeline of Sikkim, “because we have declared both Darjeeling and Kailimpong strike-free zones.”
“However, people will be able to use the four alternative routes whenever the highway is blocked by natural calamities like landslides,” Mr Tamang said.
Meanwhile, asked whether he would maintain good relations with the state government or the Centre, as both the governments have started providing funds to the GTA, Mr Tamang said: “The state government came forward as the situation of Darjeeling Hills was not good. So we are with the present state government. We are also monitoring political developments closely, centering the general elections of 2019.”