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Rs 36 lakh priced battery-operated car vehicles lies unused in Darjeeling

Battery-operated cars lie unused in  GTA office  Darjeeling
Three battery-operated vehicles introduced by the GTA for value addition in the tourism industry in Darjeeling have been grounded since January as they couldn't run for optimum distance after batteries were fully charged.
The GTA had purchased four eight-seater cars at a cost of Rs 36 lakh early last year. Three of the vehicles were handed over to the transport department in Darjeeling and used to operate between Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan and Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. One vehicle was sent to Deolo Tourist Lodge in Kalimpong.
"The vehicles started operating in Darjeeling from April 10 last year. As the vehicles are open on the sides, they were not used during the rainy season. The vehicles, which operated for about six months, generated a revenue of Rs 3.5 lakh," said an official of the transport department.
The official added: "We were told that once the battery was fully charged, it would cover about 60km. However, it hardly ran for about 5km. The cars have other defects also. Probably, the vehicle is not suited for a hilly region."
The transport department has four mechanics but none of them has been trained to undertake repairs.
"Prevalence Green Solution, the Bangalore-based company which supplied the vehicles, did not train our mechanics. Despite writing to the firm about the problems, it has not shown any interest," said the official.
The company purportedly wrote a letter to the GTA's transport department on March 4, stating "we have taken note of your concerns and are arranging for our service engineers visit shortly".
But the engineers have not yet turned up. The letter was signed by one Sunil Kumar but his designation has not been cited in the letter. Even though Kumar has signed the letter "for, Prevalence Green Solutions", it has neither been written on a letter head nor is there a company stamp.
Asked if a maintenance contract had been signed with the company or tests conducted before the vehicles' purchase, the official of the transport department said: "We are unaware of such details."
Dawa Lepcha, the GTA Sabha member in charge of tourism, too, could not say if proper tests had been done in Darjeeling before the purchase.
A GTA official who is in the know of things said: "The tests were done but maintenance contract was not worked out as it is under a two-year warranty. Once the warranty period is over, maintenance contract has to be worked out."
Gopal Lama, executive director, tourism department, GTA, who had taken charge recently, said: " I am hearing about the defunct vehicles for the first time from you. I will enquire with the transport department. However, I am sure that all procedures must have been followed when the purchase was made as it was done using public funds."
Sources in Kalimpong said while the vehicle was operational, it was not run regularly as the GTA had not posted a permanent driver.(TT)

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