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Steep taxi and permit rates: Sikkim Tourism Dept forms high-level committee to probe matter

First Published: 20th May, 2024 17:06 IST

The Committee will be headed by an Additional Secretary and a report on the matter will have to be submitted within 15 days

Just 2 days after the Centre pulled up the Sikkim Tourism department over alleged exorbitant taxi charges and exploitative permit rates, the Sikkim Government has formed a high-level committee to probe the matter and find out the truth.

If anyone is found breaching the standard norms or rates applicable, than the Sikkim Tourism Department will ensure stern actions against such individuals or tour operators.

This has been informed to Northeast Live by Principal Secretary of Sikkim Tourism CS Rao. He informed that the high-level committee after thoroughly looking into the matter will be submitting a report within 15 days.

The Committee will be headed by an Additional Secretary who during the examination will not only prepare a report but will also initiate action against those involved, engaged in such malpractices.

The issue of ‘exploitative’ cab and permit rates surfaced after K.P. Wasnik, a former additional commissioner of the Union ministry of Agriculture who had visited Sikkim in April had written to the Centre complaining about very steep taxi and permit rates.

Following his complaint, in a letter dated May 13, the Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System of the Union Tourism Ministry pulled up the Sikkim tourism and civil aviation department for the rates.

“The issues raised (by Wasink) included exploitative pricing by the travel agencies for permits to visit various tourist spots, safety concerns at Nathu-la point due to narrow steps and inadequate infrastructure, lack of amenities and security measures at tourist spots and exorbitant charges by travel agencies for car rentals,” the letter sent by the ministry conveyed.

In his complaint, Wasnik said he and the family had visited Lachung, Zero Point, Yumthang Valley, Nathu-la and some other spots in Sikkim.

As per the complaint, travel agencies had charged Wasnik and his family Rs 4,000 for Zero Point and Yumthang Valley and another Rs 4,000 for permits to go to Nathu-la pass and the lake.

Wasnik had also complained that no arrangements were available at the tourist spots to provide shelter or proper food to visitors in case of a sudden downpour or snowfall.

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