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15 Dec 2016

Sikkim, Bengal in transport deal

TT, Calcutta, Dec. 14: Sikkim and Bengal today drafted a transport accord under which taxis and vehicles carrying tourists will be allowed entry to three locations each on either side of the border and also launched buses on five new routes. 
Earlier, cars from Bengal were allowed access to only three places in Sikkim but no such restriction was imposed in Bengal on vehicles from the Himalayan state. 
The “draft supplementary reciprocal transport agreement”, which was signed by the transport secretaries of the two states in Calcutta today, aims to ease the weeks-old deadlock arising out of allegations by Sikkim drivers that “penalties” were being imposed on them in Bengal. Drivers in Sikkim had threatened to stop vehicles from Bengal from entering the state. 
According to the draft, vehicles from Bengal will continue to enjoy unrestricted access to Gangtok, Pelling and Namchi. Tourist vehicles and taxis entering Bengal from Sikkim will be allowed access to only Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Siliguri.
“We have mutually arrived at a consensus on these destinations. There is still scope for working further on the agreement on certain points,” said Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Bengal’s transport secretary. 

“The accord addresses the aspirations of the youth of the state and would help create more job opportunities,” said Sikkim’s transport secretary S.B.S. Bhaduria.
According to the draft agreement, five bus routes will be introduced between Alipurduar and Gangtok, Siliguri and Namchi and some other areas between Cooch Behar and Gangtok.
The development comes at a time more tourists are opting to visit the two states using Siliguri as the gateway.

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