NEW DELHI, 2 MARCH: For the integrated development of North-Eastern region, the benefits of the 10 per cent tourism budget for the region should be extended to three districts of West Bengal ~ Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar ~ a parliamentary committee has suggested.
In its 190th report on Development of Tourism in Darjeeling and Sikkim, the departmentally-related standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, chaired by Mr Sitaram Yechury, said: “These areas should be considered along with Sikkim for the purpose of development of tourism facilities, subsidies, reorganisation, tax benefits of the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region.”
The committee recommended that Darjeeling should be included in the “Incredible India” campaign and the tourism ministry should take steps in this direction, by including Darjeeling in all the publicity campaigns.
The committee noted that Darjeeling is excluded from the LTC facility in lieu of hometown granted to Central government employees and felt that it should be taken up with the department of personnel and training to grant this status to Darjeeling.
Despite Darjeeling and Sikkim being in the seismic zone and prone to earthquakes, the committee was told that there is no framework or guidelines for construction in the area. It, therefore, suggested strict norms for construction and said rules should be followed in all projects involving concrete structures.
It felt that keeping in view the hill areas, there is need for a technical institute who can frame guidelines and help the hill people in construction in the area keeping in view the ecological balance.
With internet services and mobile signals being very weak in most places in Darjeeling and Sikkim thereby making it difficult for tourists to remain connected, the committee felt that this matter should be taken up on a priority basis with the ministry of communication and IT.
The committee felt that the train service to Darjeeling requires a major overhaul and suggested that renovation and restoration of all stations from Siliguri to Darjeeling should be taken up. “Not only the railway stations, but the adjoining areas with tea estates, old buildings should be brought under “Tourism and Heritage Park,” it said.
The report said Siliguri Town, Sukna, Tundharia, Kurseong, Sonada, Ghoom and Darjeeling stations need to be provided with tourist information and facilitation centres and other amenities.