Gangtok, 19 Jun:

In order to ensure smooth passage for tourists and locals travelling to Siliguri for medical and other emergencies, the State Administration has deployed buses which will leave for SNT Bus stand, Siliguri, on convoy with Police escort from Rangpo at 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m every day. The convoy will return from SNT Siliguri at 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

On the same a meeting was held today which was attended by ADGP, Akshay Sachdeva, District Collector, P Prabhakar Rao, SP East, Tenzing Loden Lepcha, officials from department of Tourism, department of Transport, DSP Traffic, Ongmu Bhutia, OC Sadar PS, Bijay Subba and representatives of Travel Agents Association of Sikkim, Luxury Taxi Vehicles Association, Sikkim Hotels and Restaurants Association and representatives from the media.

It was decided that police escort will be provided to convoy of vehicles plying to Siliguri everyday starting from Rangpo at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. and to convoy of vehicles plying to Gangtok from Rangpo at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Convoys from Siliguri will start at SNT stand.

Tourists and local travellers alike can ask for a drop to Rangpo within Sikkim and board many of the buses put in service by the Sikkim government including many buses procured from pharmaceutical companies, NHPC and other corporates and companies.

SP East informed that he has been informed by his counterpart in Kalimpong that police pickets have been put up in most places like Kirney, Chitray, Lohapul, Kalijhora, etc.

Tourism stakeholders were also requested to inform tourists in their respective hotels about the same. Also if for any reason, tourists are stranded in Sikkim, SHRA has requested and appealed to hotels to provide free accommodation and fooding in this emergency situation.

Hotels which do not help fellow travellers will be penalised and strict action taken against them by Sadar Police.

The Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Government of Sikkim, in a press release issued today has also requested all hoteliers of Sikkim to extend all possible help and hospitality to stranded tourists and provide all necessary support to help them return home.

Meanwhile, speaking to media today, SP East, Tenzing Loden Lepcha said that today around 40 SNT buses including some requisitioned from pharmaceutical companies ferried tourists to Siliguri. In the morning, a rally on the West Bengal side of Rangpo had halted traffic for some time, however, later the convoy of buses made it through Rangpo, he informed.

Mr Lepcha has appealed to the public not to listen to rumours and assured that the state administration in coordination with the West Bengal government will provide safe passage to tourists travelling to Siliguri.