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New ropeway plans dropped

Oct. 27: Proposals to start ropeways in seaside Digha and Buxaduar in Jalpaiguri were put on the backburner on a day an inquiry team landed in Darjeeling to find out what led to the cable car crash on October 19.

Tourism minister Dinesh Dakua, who was in Jalpaiguri last week to boost tourism in the Dooars, said the proposals for the ropeway projects at the two tourist spots were cancelled because the Darjeeling accident had raised several questions about the safety of the system and its maintenance.

Three cabins of the Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Ropeway plunged 50 feet into the tea bushes of Patabung estate in downhill Tukvar after the cable slipped off the conveyor wheel on a post. Four tourists died and 11 were injured in the accident.

Dakua said the tourism department had finalised talks with Conveyor and Ropeway Services, the company that had been running the cable car service in the hill town in collaboration with the state forest development corporation, but dropped the idea after the accident.

The ropeway service would have made things easier for tourists visiting Buxa Fort. Now, they have to trek up a hilly route. “The service would definitely have attracted more tourists to the heritage building,” said a district official.

In Darjeeling, the four members of the probe panel visited the disaster site and questioned employees of the Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Ropeway behind closed doors. The team set up by the government will also speak to students of Mount Hermon School, who were among the first to begin rescue operation. The ropeway shut down after the accident will remain closed till further orders.

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