Monday, 30th October 2017

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NFR claims efforts to preserve DHR heritage

Toy train fans say lack of clear plan caused loss of rail’s uniqueness

By Avijit Sinha in Siliguri
  • Published 17.07.19, 1:26 AM
  • Updated 17.07.19, 1:26 AM
  • a min read
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A DHR toy train A file photo

Senior officials of the Northeast Frontier Railway said on Tuesday that they were putting their best efforts to conserve the heritage service of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and highlighted the need for cooperation from the Bengal government and local bodies for the preservation.

“We have engaged additional officers for better conservation of the DHR. Also, the Unesco is preparing the Comprehensive Conservation & Management Plan and we intend to implement it in a full-fledged manner. As far as the two stations (which had been destroyed in the 2017 state agitation) are concerned, we are waiting for recommendations from the Unesco as they need to be rebuilt in such a manner so that they regain the same heritage look,” NFR general manager Sanjeeva Roy told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

About a week ago, the World Heritage Committee of Unesco had expressed serious concern over the conservation of the DHR.

The committee has requested the Centre to prepare a comprehensive report on the conservation of the railway property and place it before Unesco by February next year.

Another senior official of the NFR said cooperation of the state and local bodies was needed to implement some of the recommendations made by the Unesco panel.

According to him, the DHR authorities try their best to keep the tracks clear. “But unless the local bodies like municipalities and administration come forward, it is tough to keep the tracks and its sides clear from encroachments,” he said.

“Also, there are proposals to create buffer zones on either side of the tracks. We feel the state government and local bodies should also realise the importance of the heritage railway and work jointly with us to conserve the DHR,” he said.

The UK-based Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society also said the heritage property should be maintained properly.

Paul Whittle, the vice-chairman of the DHRS, said the hill rail had lost many of its unique features in the past few years.

“The DHR presents Indian Railways with all manner of challenges from unstable terrain, monsoon washouts, periodic political unrest, and a lack of planning controls along its boundaries. In recent years, much money and effort resulted in more tourist services, better quality carriages and an improved financial performance. However, the lack of clearly defined conservation standards has resulted in the loss of or deterioration in some of the line’s unique features,” Whittle said.