Darjeeling unrest: Gorkhaland stir disrupts flow of tourists to Sikkim
Even after more than two months, the Gorkhaland stir has not yielded any results and has instead caused damage to its neighbouring state Sikkim, which depends on road connectivity through West Bengal for its tourism.
Nestled in the Himalayas, Sikkim's 10 lakh population primarily depends on tourism for its income and revenue, and this year it has taken one of the worst hits.
The losses incurred this year due to the dip in tourists has already reached Rs 600 crore. Till June the number of tourists who arrived in the state was 12 lakh, but since then the numbers have dwindled. There have been more than one lakh cancellations across the state.
Speaking exclusively to India Today, Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling said, "There are around 3000 hotels amd resorts in Sikkim who have cancelled almost one lakh bookings in two months. The losses have crossed Rs 600 crore already and will keep on increasing if the protests continue in this way."
The only land route to reach Gangtok is from Siliguri in West Bengal where you cross Kalimpong district on the way. Kalimpong is also a part of the Gorkhaland being demanded by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders, hence it has witnessed widespread protests including attacks on vehicles enroute to Gangtok.
Even perishable goods, including organic items, up to the tune of Rs 100 crores have been destroyed due to no vehicle movement to supply them out of state.
Chamling explained, "Even in first Darjeeling agitation in year 1985 it was Sikkim that suffered, and it has always suffered. We have Rs 60000 crore lost in 33 years. We are the sufferers. Out life line is the National Highway 10 (NH 10) which is closed regularly and we suffer, tourism suffers. We request and appeal to the protestors to find a permanent solution to this crisis."