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30 May 2018

CM meet triggers traffic snarl Tourists spend hours in cabs, drop plans

Vehicles left stranded in a traffic congestion at Lamahatta near Kalimpong on Tuesday
Vivek Chhetri, TT, May 30, 2018, Kalimpong: Tejas Sankha, a tourist from Mumbai, had started off from Darjeeling for a three-hour ride to Kalimpong at 9am on Tuesday morning.

Seven-and-a-half-hours later, Sankha and his family of four were still sitting on their white Xylo at 7th Mile, on the outskirts of Kalimpong town, 4km away from their hotel but still hours away.

Supporters of 15 development boards in Darjeeling, along with those of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and Trinamul flooded this small hill town to attend chief minister Mamata Banerjee's programme at Ronaldshay Park near Kalimpong on Tuesday.

They came from every nook and corner of the hills, from faraway places in the Dooars and the Terai, in hundreds, in cars, SUVs, bikes and even buses and Kalimpong was caught napping, clearly unprepared to handle the rush.

Not just the supporters, but tourists also, had a harrowing time.

"I wanted to complete local sightseeing today (Tuesday). This is impossible. I will have to do it tomorrow (Tuesday) and leave for Gangtok later in the evening," said Sankha.

The Sankha family will be leaving Gangtok on June 2. The story was the same for every traveller connected with Kalimpong.

Huge traffic snarls started right from Ghoom-Jorebunglow before a massive snarl hit them from Lamahatta right till Kalimpong.

"For one-and-a-half hours, the vehicle did not move an inch at Lamahatta," said Sandip Mehta, another Mumbaikar.

Sandip's driver switched vehicles to take them to Darjeeling.

The husband-wife duo were coming from Gangtok to Darjeeling. The driver decided to turn to Gangtok from Peshok taking another family travelling from Darjeeling to Gangtok. "It is impossible to reach Darjeeling and return to Gangtok on time today (Tuesday)," said a driver.

Traffic snarl at Kalimpong was virtually unmanageable.

An impressive crowd had turned up at Ronaldshay Park in Kalimpong but hundreds of people started returning to their homes around 11am. "How can we reach Kalimpong," a driver from Mirik, who turned his vehicle from Lamahatta around 11am, said.

The story was the same all along the route. At every kilometer, drivers were seen turning back giving up on any hope of reaching Kalimpong.

"My clients were to stop for river rafting in the Teesta. This was impossible today," said a driver from Sikkim.

Additional reporting by Avijit Sinha in Siliguri.

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