DARJEELING, 1 February: The Darjeeling ropeway, which has been shut down since 2003, is scheduled to start operating from tomorrow.
The ropeway, a famous tourist attraction here, was shut down on 19 October 2003 after a trio of gondolas slipped off the conveyor and fell into the tea bushes of the Patabung garden in Tukvar, killing four tourists.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had promised to restart the passenger ropeway. Now, it seems the ropeway, which is located at Singmari, near North Point School in Darjeeling, will start carrying tourists up to the Tukvar Valley again. Today the divisional manager of the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFD), Mr Samir Gazmer, said: “I’d been summoned for the informal meeting today with the Conveyor of Ropeway Services officials to discuss the functioning of the ropeway that will be kept on service from tomorrow onwards.”
Staff members from the WBFD and the public works department inspected the ropeway last year, and a certificate of fitness was issued to the Conveyor of Ropeway Services, which conducted several trials.
The Darjeeling goods-hauling ropeway, located at Chowk Bazaar, has been shut down since 1998. The director of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway said a proposal has been submitted to convert the goods-hauling ropeway into a passenger-carrying ropeway. He said it will happen soon, when the government gives the go-ahead.
In the meantime, though, the goods-hauling ropeway continues to languish in disuse. Mr Tilak Rai, an employee of the goods-hauling ropeway, said the government is not taking the conversion proposal seriously.