Darjeeling not excited, rather irritated by civic polls

Vehicle owners claim that police officials taking their vehicles on hire for election duty do not pay them on time.

Published: 12th May 2017 08:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th May 2017 08:35 PM   |  A+A-

Darjeeling locals stand in long queues to travel short distances as vehicles hired by electoral staff are parked in a neat queue before at the Motor stand in main town of Darjeeling in West Bengal on Friday. (EPS | Aishik Chanda)

Express News Service

DARJEELING: Residents of Darjeeling, also known as 'Queen of Hills' are rather irritated with the civic polls as the poll season falls during the peak tourist season, making the town a traffic nightmare with over 10,000 vehicles -- also coming from Kalimpong, Kurseong and Gangtok -- lining up the narrow alleys of the tiny hill town.

Vehicle owners, for whom summer is the peak tourist season to cater to visitors from the plains of Bengal, claim that police officials taking their vehicles on hire for election duty do not pay them on time.

"They only give 10-15 litres of petrol every day. We have to shell out money from our pockets to pay our owners," Jit Bahadur Thapa, a local driver said.

"Had the police and poll officials not hired our vehicles, we could have used them for tourist purposes. We are bearing losses in this peak tourist season," said vehicle owner Sonam Yonzon.

Election officials have confirmed that they have hired 80 SUVs while officials from Darjeeling town’s traffic police station said they have hired 100 SUVs, 10 buses and 10 trucks.

Locals also say processions and speeches by politicians increase the problem of traffic jams. "The situation is acute in the outskirts of town. We have to wait in long traffic jams because of processions by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Jan Andolan Party and Trinamool Congress. Some often happen simultaneously, making the situation a nightmare for us and tourists," said driver Abhijeet Thapa.

On the other hand, locals who already face shortage of vehicles during peak tourist season have to wait in longer queues for an average of 45 minutes to get vehicles to travel as less as 10 km.

Vehicles also take up pedestrian spaces on the narrow roads. "Many a times, vehicles nearly run us down. Our town has not seen a change in any of the 32 wards in the last five years. Elections are a big headache for us now," said Roshni Bhujel, a shopper at Hill Cart Road in town.

On the other hand, hotel owners also claimed that they did not make the usual money, made during tourist seasons, as some rooms were given to officials. "We can't hike room rent due to an agreement among hotel owners. So rooms are already packed and we had to turn down many tourists as some were allotted to electoral officials," said Bikram Das, owner of a hotel near Motor Stand in the town centre.

"We can only hope that situation improves after the election is over on 14th," he added.

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp