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Sidrapong Hydel Project to turns into a tourist destination

Sidrapong Hydel Project to turns into a tourist destination
India’s oldest hydel power plant and perhaps Asia’s, is set to get a new lease of life with the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) drawing up plans to convert surrounding areas of Sidrapong Hydel Project into a tourist destination.
Sidrapong, nine kms away from Darjeeling town offers tourists the ideal setting to enjoy nature’s beauty because of its location, nestled within lush green tea gardens, meandering roads and with the flowing Kotwali, Hospial and Barbatte rivers.
On Monday, the GTA unveiled plans to convert the surrounding area of Sidrapong into a tourist hub by conducting “bhoomi puja” for widening and carpeting of 2 ½ km stretch of road from the Orange Valley Estate to the power plant. “The road till Orange Valley tea garden is jeepable but beyond that it is not carpeted and is in really bad condition. The Sidrapong hydel plant was accorded heritage status in 1997 and many tourists even now visit it because of its history. We have decided to repair and renovate the approach road, first as part of our plans to develop the area,” said GTA Sabhasad Binay Tamang representing the Bloomfield-Rishihat constituency under which Sidrapong falls.
The project cost which includes a new steel bridge over Kotwali river is pegged at Rs.3.96 crore. In the second phase the GTA has plans to set-up 8 cottages for tourists visiting India’s oldest hydel power plant. “We will pump in additional Rs.4 crore for construction of tourist cottages with lawns and gardens. We expect the project to be completed within two years. The fund will be provided by the central government under the special grant,” Tamang said.
In August 2014, a GTA delegation had met Shripad Yesso Naik, the union minister for tourism in Delhi seeking funds for maintenance and up-keep of the Sidrapong hydel power plant and its surrounding area.
Besides the Orange Valley road, Sidrapong can be approached from the Arya and Singtam tea estates; however the road condition is in a dilapidated state. The GTA has planned to pump in Rs.11 crores for a 7 km stretch road to connect Sidrapong via the Arya tea garden. “The alternative road will be constructed under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) but the work is expected to start only after few months because of technical reasons,” said the GTA Sabhasad.
Set up in 1897 under the British era, the power plant is in a state of neglect since it stopped supplying electricity to Darjeeling town and surrounding tea gardens in 1978. At present the status of the power plant is that of an additional electricity supplier the power station in Darjeeling town, whenever required. (EOIC)

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