KOLKATA: More than 40 Land Rovers that have been ferrying tourists and locals to places at altitudes of 12,000 feet or more along the India-Nepal border in Darjeeling district of West Bengal for more than 50 years may be phased out soon.
The vehicles are to be replaced with new ones, thus ending a part of local history and also affecting local employment.
According to transport department rules, no vehicle above 15 years of age can ply the streets for commercial purposes. “The vehicle owners can avail loans to buy new vehicles under Gatidhara scheme. We can use the Land Rovers as heritage vehicles in tourist circuits in the district,” said Darjeeling DM. The Land Rovers were introduced to the district in the late 1950s.
However, locals say they do not have enough business throughout the year to pay high taxes on the newer SUVs.
“Business is not good throughout the year. How will we pay high taxes and insurance even if we buy the new vehicles?” said Anil Tamang, Singalila Land Rover Association coordinator.