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Registration eye on safari cars

Alipurduar, Nov. 13: The state forest department wants car owners who conduct jungle safaris in Jaldapara and Chilapata forests to get their vehicles registered in the commercial category.

Rajendra Jakhar, the divisional forest officer, wildlife-III, said: “This week I am going to issue notices to the Gypsy owners who conduct jungle safaris in Jaldapara and Chilapata to get commercial registration for their vehicles. The drivers must also have a commercial licence A one-month time will be given from the time the notice is issued. Otherwise, we will not allow the vehicles to be used for the tours.”

A commercial registration is necessary for tourist vehicles because any car without it cannot be used for commercial purposes.

For the last five years, 14 Maruti Gypsys without any commercial registration have been ferrying tourists in Jaldapara. Jakhar said notices had been issued to the vehicle owners twice earlier.

In Chilapata forest, 12 such vehicles take tourists around every day.

In Jaldapara, six persons are allowed to travel in a Gypsy at a time and the cost is Rs 1,300 while in Chilapata the cost for six persons is Rs 850.

The tax for private registration for five years is Rs 17,000, which is almost double for a commercial registration. This is the main reason why Gypsy owners do not want a commercial registration for their vehicles.

Ranjit Dutta, secretary of Jaldapara Gypsy Owners’ Association, said: “We want to get a commercial registration but the last time we submitted a prayer to the motor vehicles office in Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri, we did not get any reply. We know we have to pay almost double the tax but we are ready to pay it. In that case we will also have to increase the rate we charge from tourists.”

Jaldapara is known for the one-horn rhino while Chilapata is famous for it’s dense forests.