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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Tourism department of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration resumes rafting on Teesta river

Since October 4 last year, when a flash flood had occurred in the river, rafting, a popular adventure sport in this region, had stopped. The natural disaster had also impacted locations from where rafts carrying tourists and adventure enthusiasts were launched in the river

Bireswar Banerjee Siliguri Published 23.03.24, 09:18 AM
Members of the Teesta Rangeet River Rafters Welfare Association under the tourism department of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration start rafting on the Teesta on Friday

Members of the Teesta Rangeet River Rafters Welfare Association under the tourism department of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration start rafting on the Teesta on Friday

The tourism department of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) resumed rafting in the Teesta river on Friday after a gap of five months.

Since October 4 last year, when a flash flood had occurred in the river, rafting, a popular adventure sport in this region, had stopped. The natural disaster had also impacted locations from where rafts carrying tourists and adventure enthusiasts were launched in the river.

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“We resumed rafting in the Teesta from today (Friday). It will continue till June 15, when monsoon sets in,” said Satyaprakash Chhetri, the assistant director of tourism of the GTA.

After the flash flood, the Kalimpong district administration and the Indian army recommended a halt in rafting for two reasons.

One was the high water level in the river, which receded in due course. The other was that explosives from Sikkim army camps had been swept away by the Teesta and could explode on contact with the rafts.

“After several surveys jointly with officials of the state forest department and the Kalimpong district administration, we decided to allow rafting from now on. We consulted with our chief executive Anit Thapa and launched it according to his instructions,” added Chhetri.

Dawa Sherpa, the chief adventure coordinator of the department of tourism of the GTA, has issued a set of safety guidelines to private operators who run the rafting facility.

These include compulsory use of safety gear like helmets and life vests while rafting, prohibition on swimming while rafting, proper maintenance of rafts and first-aid kits in all rafts.

A representative of the Teesta Rangeet River Rafters’ Welfare Association — the association of private operators which functions under the GTA’s tourism department — said they would use around 30 rafts for adventure sports.

They said that the swollen Teesta on October 4 swept away more than 30 rafts, several vehicles used for transporting passengers and rafts to the riverbank and a number of makeshift stalls used as ticket counters. As a result, the earnings of around 300 persons dependent on this adventure sport had stopped.

“The resumption of this water sport is a major relief for us. We faced acute hardships for the past five months. We believe that in another couple of months, we will be able to recover from the crisis,” Pramod Chhetri, the president of the association, said.

He said that the rafts would now be run in two routes. One is a 3.5km stretch from Bhalukhola to Laburbote. The other is a 7km route from the Seventh Mile to Laburbote. Each ride will have five passengers. A guide and an assistant will accompany them.

“For the first trip, the charge is Rs 4,000 to be divided among the five persons on the raft. For the second trip, the charge is Rs 5,000,” Chhetri said.

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