ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER: Chhangu tourists stranded – still blasting up a fragile ecosystem to finish the job in worthless hurry ?!! Not to be sued by the State yet again ?!! Disasters man made ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, Oct. 22: Around 1,000 tourists on their way from Chhangu Lake were stranded for four hours when boulders came tumbling down on JN Marg, moments after a blast to widen the highway.
The highway connects Gangtok with Nathu-la on the India-China border. The Border Roads Organisation has been entrusted with the widening project and had triggered the blast.
“Around 5.30pm, when the tourist vehicles were returning from Chhangu Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathu-la, the boulders started rolling down the hills near 13th Mile as a result of the blasts being carried out by the BRO personnel, leaving 157 cars stranded,” said Lukendra Rasaily, the president of the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim.
Rasaily, who was also among the stranded visitors, said over the phone that the BRO men cleared the debris after four hours of struggle and the vehicles started moving in a single file from 9.30pm.
In the tourist season, around 300 vehicles ferry visitors to three must-visit spots above 12,000ft every morning. All the vehicles return to Gangtok afternoon.
Today, according to BRO sources, most of the Gangtok-bound cars had crossed 13th Mile, 20km from here, but 150-odd vehicles were stranded as the debris blocked a stretch of about 30-50 metres.
“It was cold and most of the tourists sat huddled inside the vehicles, while some took a long walk to keep their body warm,” Rasaily said.