Gangtok, Oct. 4: The Jawaharlal Nehru Marg linking Gangtok to Nathu-la and other tourist spots in the border areas of the East district was disrupted by a landslide yesterday afternoon, barely two days after the road was reopened for light vehicles.
With the JN Marg being hit by a landslide at 17th Mile near Kyongshala, the state government has stopped issuing permits to tourists to visit Nathu-la, Chhangu lake and Baba Mandir in East Sikkim through the road. The JN Marg had been closed since June after multiple landslides and the route was reopened for traffic only on Monday.
The alternative route to the border tourist spots, Rangpo-Nathu-la Road, is also closed after it was hit by a landslide on Tuesday.
The director of the Border Roads Organisation, A.K. Das, said: “The rain washed away a portion of JN Marg yesterday afternoon. It may take some days to restore the road. Another landslide damaged the Rangpo-Nathu-la Road near Padamchen village on Tuesday and the BRO needs some time to carry out the repair.”
Vehicles take at least four hours to reach Nathu-la through the RN Road, while 90 minutes are needed for travel through the JN Marg.
Still, only a handful of tourists took the JN Marg on Monday when the government resumed issuing permits for the travel via the route. This is largely because most tourists didn’t know that permits would be available from Monday.
“On Monday nine tourists took permits to go to Nathu-la and other border places in East Sikkim using JN Marg, while 151 people followed the RN Road,” said additional secretary of the tourism department Chewang Rinzing Bhutia.
With the East district spots out of bounds, tourists went to South and West Sikkim. The road to Lachen and Lachung in North Sikkim is still cut off because of landslides.
The Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim has advised tourists to plan the itinerary in consultation with tour operators. “TAAS urges tourists to plan an alternative itinerary in consultation with tour operators in case roads are closed,” said TAAS president Satish Bardewa.