Mamata's Sandakphu trek cancellation causes inconvenience to Land Rover owners

Land Rover in sandakphu
Darjeeling, Oct. 10: Mamata Banerjee’s decision to drop her plan for Sandakphu trek at the last moment has caused inconvenience to the Land Rover owners who had earlier cancelled all bookings from tourists between October 13 and 17 to ensure a glitch-free ride for the chief minister.
Chandan Pradhan, the secretary of the Singalila Land Rovers Association, said although 50 trips had been cancelled, it was hopeful of receiving new bookings for the October 13-17 period.
“We had earlier cancelled all bookings from tourists between October 13 and 17 as our vehicles were to be used during the chief minister’s visit,” he said.
Pradhan said an official from the Darjeeling district magistrate’s office had called the association office-bearers early this morning to inform them about the cancellation of the trip by Mamata.
“We immediately started contacting the tourists whom we had refused Land Rovers earlier. We are confident that some of them, especially those from Calcutta, will come back,” he said.
Land Rovers charge Rs 4,800 for a round trip to Sandakphu-Phalut (12,200ft) from Maneybhanjyang. The charges include a night halt of Land Rovers at Sandakphu-Phalut.
The district administration had asked for 44 Land Rovers, even though the association has only 40 vehicles.
Pradhan said it had received bookings for at least 50 trips for the October 13-17 period. This means that the Land Rover owners have lost Rs 2.4 lakh because of Mamata’s change of mind.
“We are still confident of getting some bookings. However, it will be slightly less (than the 50 rides they had turned down earlier),” said Pradhan.
Only Land Rovers that have a four-wheel drive ply to Sandakphu from Maneybhanjyang, a base town for all treks to region, which is situated about 35km from Darjeeling. The road between Maneybhanjyang and Sandakphu is not only steep but is also laid of cobbled stones because of which only Land Rover drivers are ready to take the route.
Keeping this in mind, the district officials had requested the Singalila Land Rovers Association to keep their vehicle ready for the chief minister’s visit.
A senior administrative official had yesterday said that the chief minister was to stay at Jorepokhari tourist bungalow on October 13 and go to Maneybhanjyang the next day and trek to Tonglu that day. After a night halt at Tonglu, she was to drive to Sandakphu and return the next day.
Asked if the Land Rovers owners were expecting compensation from the state government, Pradhan said: “No, we are not expecting compensation.”
Pradhan, however, quickly added: “Moreover, we are expecting some bookings to come through. Also, most of our Land Rovers are booked from October 18 onwards as a major marathon event is being organised in the area for five days.”
Puneet Yadav, Darjeeling district magistrate, did not respond to calls. 

Source: The Telegraph

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