Siliguri, July 29: DGHC administrator B.L. Meena said today that the council could not take up any tourism project in the hills, barring the repair of a few huts for trekkers on the Sandakphu route because of frequent strikes by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
“Funds for the improvement of tourism infrastructure are lying with us. But we could not launch any project for tourists visiting the hills as DGHC offices are closed because of agitation by the Morcha,” said Meena. “However, some minor repairs were carried out at some locations.”
According to him, several people, including foreigners, travel every year to Sandakphu and Phalut — two popular destinations for trekkers in the Darjeeling hills. “The DGHC had built huts for the trekkers on the Sandakphu route, but they took a lot of wear and tear over years. Although political problems in the hills are posing a hindrance to the execution of projects, we could start the repair of the huts to make them suitable for the tourists to stay. We expect the work to finish soon,” said the administrator.
DGHC officials said there were proposals for the introduction of rafting and angling on the Teesta at Tribeni in Kalimpong and improvement of roads to tourist spots like Tarkhola, Relli and Deolo in the subdivision.
“Similar proposals are pending in Darjeeling and Kurseong subdivisions also. The projects could have helped boost tourism in the hills. However, officials found no point in giving a thought to a single project as they had faced a lot of opposition from the Morcha whenever they came forward to discharge their duties,” said an official.
He also alleged that the Morcha was standing in the way of tourism promotion by occupying seven DGHC properties. “After the administrator had filed FIRs, Gorkhaland Personnel vacated five DGHC properties. But two are still occupied by them. By turning DGHC lodges into camps for GLP, the Morcha left tourists disappointed as they could not find lodges at idyllic places like Deolo and Tribeni,” he said. While the GLP left Deolo lodge, the building at Tribeni is still their camp.