The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in an “informal” meeting with the Nepal consul general Chandra Kumar Ghimirey proposed that an immigration office should be opened up at Pashupatinagar, a border town in Nepal, to facilitate smooth transit, specially for foreign tourists visiting Darjeeling from Nepal.
Along with this they have proposed a dry port at Kakarivita, also a border town in Nepal. Work is already on to open up Indian Customs offices at Pashupatinagar and Kakarivita.
The consul general along with the deputy consul general Yuvraj Ghimirey and their wives were in Darjeeling on Monday after attending a literary function in Kalimpong on Sunday. In Darjeeling they decided to pay a courtesy call on the GTA chief executive member Bimal Gurung. The meeting took place at the Planters Club in Darjeeling.
Later talking to the press Ghimirey stated that it was a mere “courtesy call” and an “informal meeting.” “It was a courtesy meeting and the consul general wanted to know about the GTA and the development activities being carried out by the GTA. We gave a few proposal informally in the interest of both the nations, specially in the tourism sector” added Gurung.
Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan proposed the opening up of an Indian immigration office at Pashupatinagar to facilitate better transit specially for foreign tourist. At present with the Nepali immigration office located at Kakarivita, foreign tourists are compelled to travel a longer distance to or from the nearest airport on Nepal soil Bhadrapur. The total distance from Darjeeling to Bhadrapur via Kakarivita is around 112 kilometres.
“Whereas if we have an immigration office at Pashupatinagar the distance to Bhadrapur Airport via Pashupatinagar will be cut down and transit will be mush smoother” remarked Dewan. The distance from Darjeeling to Bhadrapur via Pashupatinagar is around 62 kilometres.
“We have also requested the consul general that Nepal Airlines operate flights from Bagdogar Airport also on the lines of Druk Airlines from Bhutan. Soon Bangladesh Airlines will also be operating from Bagdogra All this proposals if implemented will greatly facilitate tourism in this region benefiting both the countries” stated Dewan. Bagdogra Airport in the Darjeeling district is the nearest Indian Airport from Darjeeling town located at a distance of around 80 kilometres.
Incidentally land has already been earmarked for customs offices at Pashupatinagar and Kakarivita informed Saumitra Mohan, district magistrate, Darjeeling. In an Indo-Nepal Border Coordination meeting held between the two countries on January 17 at Birtamore in Nepal, the Indian delegation had expressed concern on the mushrooming of FM radio stations in Nepal along the Indo-Nepal border.
‘These radio stations are broadcasting anti-Indian propaganda. We expressed serious concern regarding this and asked our Nepal counterparts to look into the matter” stated Mohan. There are allegations that these FM stations enjoy Chinese patronage.
When questioned on this issue, the Nepal consul general from the Nepal Consulate in Kolkata preferred not to comment.