GTA to inaugurate Jamuni tour project near Darjeeling
A tourism venture whose foundation had been laid by GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh and pursued by Bimal Gurung as his pet project is finally getting operational during Anit Thapa’s period, almost 13 years later.
The project at Jamuni, about 15km from Darjeeling, will become functional from the “first week of March” and would be among a number of new choices that tourists could explore when the new season starts next month.
The main features of the project are a lake and a statue of Lord Shiva.
“The Jamuni project will be operational from the first week of March. Four boats arrived at the facility today (Friday). A 23-bed hotel has been completed, along with four riverside cottages, which have 12 rooms in total,” said Suraj Sharma, assistant director of tourism, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
The Jamuni project also has a children’s park. While the GTA will run the riverside cottages, the hotel will be leased out to private entities, said Sharma.
The foundation of the project had been laid by Ghisingh when he had inaugurated the Happy New Year bridge on January 1, 2006, in his capacity as the then DGHC chief. He had then said that the DGHC had to be replaced, setting in motion a new political dynamics with his demand for Sixth Schedule status for the Darjeeling hills.
A few years later, Ghisingh and his party GNLF lost prominence in hill politics and the DGHC was replaced by the GTA. Gurung who had launched the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha became the GTA chief and took on himself the task of completing the project. He started the construction of the cottages, hotel, lake and children’s park, apart from installation of Lord Shiva’s statue.
After the first term of the GTA ended, the Bengal government set up a board of administrators to run the body. Anit Thapa is the chairman of the board now.
Plans were also afoot to set up a “Moghul garden” at Jamuni and 13 acres were acquired from villagers for the purpose.
“Apart from Jamuni, the Ganga Maya Park in Darjeeling has also been repaired and tourists can visit the place after a gap of three years,” said Sharma.
“Repair of Rohini Lake (in Kurseong) at an estimated cost of Rs 9 crore has started. As far as de-silting the Gangamaya Park was concerned, we did not have to spend a lot of money as we got the work done by GTA workers,” said Sharma.
Four boats will also be introduced at Gangamaya. Eight boats have been introduced in Mirik Lake even though boating has recently been stopped because of de-silting work.
“In the last tourism season, we used five boats at Mirik and earned a revenue of Rs 10 lakh,” said Sharma.
Cottages at Patabong in Darjeeling and Beltar in Kurseong were leased out to private parties.
“We are completing one project at a time and this has helped us complete several projects after many years. The earlier GTA body was more focussed on developing numerous project at a time resulting in delays,” said Sharma.
He said 13 cottages at Mirik motel would also be leased soon. “Mirik Tourist Lodge will be repaired soon. Our next focus will be development of Rangbhang valley in Mirik,” said the GTA official.