KOLKATA, 8 JULY 2022
A host of initiatives undertaken by the transport department in the past few days are set to give a huge boost to the travel and tourism sector of West Bengal.
State Transport Minister, Firhad Hakim inaugurated an air conditioned international bus service of North Bengal State Transport Corporation from Siliguri to Kathmandu in Nepal on 6 July from the Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus.
The fare of the Siliguri- Kakarvitta- Kathmandu bus service is Rs.1500 per person and the bus will depart from Siliguri at 2 PM everyday and reach Kathmandu next morning around 7 AM.
“ We are waiting for the NoC from the Bangladesh government for commencing international AC bus service from Siliguri to Dhaka of the neighbouring country of Bangladesh,”added Firhad Hakim.
But the most significant development took place on 5 July, when West Bengal transport minister Firhard Hakim and Sikkim Transport Minister Sanjeet Khareel inked a deal of reciprocal arrangement on transport between the two neighbouring states.
“ The West Bengal government feels that the pact will address all long-standing demands, boost tourism and immensely contribute towards the economic development of both the states.” Said Firhad Hakim.
“All-Bengal’ permits for Sikkim vehicles and ‘All-Sikkim’ permits for Bengal vehicles (except for restricted and protected areas) will be issued to facilitate vehicular movement along both the states,”
according to the new pact.
The vehicles of West Bengal had previously been granted permits for moving along Gangtok, Namchi and Pelling. While, vehicles from Sikkim received licences to operate along Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Siliguri.
Earlier, the travellers and tourists used to land at Bagdogra airport or NJP railway station and then used to take Sikkim registered vehicles and vice versa. But with the inking of the deal, the sector
has now become open.
As the Pakyong airport in Sikkim is small, the tourists and travellers come to the nearest biggest airport at Bagdogra.
At present about 3000 taxis are operating in the Siliguri to Gangtok route, the transport minister added. A new bus service from Sitai in Coochbihar to Gangtok has also started.
From now onwards according to the pact, both the state’s will not collect entry toll from vehicles entering into their respective territory through the border entry points.
However, the ongoing practice of local sightseeing will be continued by the local vehicle owners and travel agencies.
On 4 July the transport minister flagged off and inaugurated the electric bus airport shuttle from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (NSCBIA) to Howrah station at West Bengal Transport Corporation Airport Bus Terminus.
“ We are committed to reducing vehicular pollution and making public transportation eco-friendly and affordable in Bengal,”said Firhad Hakim.
The non stop battery operated green buses will leave NSC Bose Airport and reach Howrah station via Kaikhali, Ultadanga, Kankurgachi, Manicktala, Girish Park, CR Avenue, Esplanade to Howrah station. There will be only a brief stoppage at Esplanade( L20 bus stand for 3 minutes). The fare is only Rs.100.
Both, Anil Punjabi, Chairman ( East) of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) and Manav Soni, Chairman (East) of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has welcome the latest endeavours of the transport, tourism departments of the state government and said that with such positive attitude in the coming days the travel and tourism industry will get further boost in West Bengal thus generating fresh employment, investments and in revenue earnings.