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Darjeeling too small for cars

Posted by Ramesh Khati on October 30, 2009

DARJEELING, 29 OCT(The Statesman): If you come on an errand to Darjeeling and want to have your vehicle parked you are bound to run into an insurmountable problem ~ parking. Either, you would have to keep moving past the town in quest of a space or have to settle a deal with the local youths who have taken charge of the matter, in lieu of a sum.
Unlike the other two Hill stations Kalimpong and Kurseong, the problem is acute in Darjeeling. The police administration ascribes the problem to the narrow strips called roads and unplanned construction of commercial and other buildings. And to cap it all, the number of vehicles in Darjeeling is growing by the day.
According to Mohammad Subho, a vehicle operator from Siliguri, the parking problem is assuming nightmarish proportions. “Luck favouring a little we might manage a space in the official parking zone near the Mall. But most of the times we keep moving round the town. It takes a lot of time and even if space is found the police might ask us to remove the vehicle the place being a no-parking zone,” he said.
Another operator from Jalpaiguri, Mr Rabi Dey said that the local youths charge money from the drivers for arranging parking space beyond the parking lots. “The rates are not fixed. These vary from place to place. We have no other option but to satisfy them to come out of the hole,” he said.
A Darjeeling-based vehicle operator Bhusan said that with the official and commercial vehicles occupy most of the little space available for parking. Admitting the gravity of the problem, the superintendent of police, Darjeeling, Mr D P Singh said that despite the effort to ease parking problem it had remained unsolved.
“On assuming office around a year back, I arranged a meeting involving the hoteliers and the transport operators to evolve a solution. But the lack of space and spiralling number of vehicles along with encroachment of the vacant places combine together to make it insoluble,” he said.
He further said that the police had asked the commercial establishments in Darjeeling to construct parking lots up the terrace.
“This is a long-term strategy. Its implementation has yielded results in Kalimpong and Kurseong. This apart, there are some short-term measures like deploying additional force to monitor the problem round the clock and assist the people. The situation has eased a little in a year or so.
“The vehicular snarl visible everyday along the Ghoom-Darjeeling tracts is a thing of the past thanks to the measures we have taken. Yet, these can be no substitute for the long term solutions,” he added.


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