Representatives of the taxi operators’ associations in Kalimpong have demanded that only local cabs be engaged to carry tourists for sightseeing in and around Kalimpong.
They have appealed to the district administration to restrict the taxis from outside the district from such sightseeing tours, underscoring that those affect their livelihood.
Bijay Chhetri, the assistant general secretary of Kalimpong Chalak Mahasangh — an apex body of 60-odd associations of cab drivers in the hill districts — said the arrangement will benefit the local cab operators and better help tourists visit attractions in and around the hill town as they would be guided by local drivers.
“Some cabs are entering the town from outside every day and taking tourists on sightseeing. We don’t have any problem if these vehicles drop and pick up tourists from hotels, other accommodations and taxi stands. But only the local cabs should be allowed for sightseeing. The practice is prevalent in Darjeeling town and across Sikkim. We hope the district administration will understand our point,” said Chhetri, who is also the president of Kalimpong Luxury Taxi Drivers Welfare Association.
According to him, there are at least 600 local cabs in and around Kalimpong town.
Nestled in the greater Himalayas, Kalimpong is known for its orchids and some idyllic locations.
Among the popular spots include the Durpin cactus garden, a monastery, a golf course, Deolo park, the science centre and Hanuman tok. Other attractions are a Durga temple and the confluence of Relli and Teesta rivers.
“All these spots are familiar sights to a local cab operator. But most of the time, taxi drivers coming from Sikkim or places elsewhere find it difficult to locate the spots,” said a cab driver.
Another representative of the association said due to the flash flood in the Teesta on October 4 which damaged certain portions of the district and NH10, the turnout of tourists is low these days.
“In such a situation, if cabs from outside take tourists for sightseeing, there is hardly any opportunity for the local cabs to find passengers. Many cab owners are facing financial crunch. It is another important reason which is why we want the administration to make this arrangement,” he said.