Siliguri is the entry point for getting to both Sikkim and Darjeeling as the road forms a Y right passed it and starts to get ever so narrow
A Bangladesh government report has said that it is not possible to inaugurate direct routes between Dhaka and Sikkim and between Dhaka and Darjeeling.
The report additionally states: “Dhaka – Sikkim and Dhaka – Darjeeling direct route is not feasible as the roads are narrow and there are risky bends on both the routes after Siliguri.
“A direct route from Dhaka to Siliguri is however possible as the road till Siliguri is wide and does not have any risky bends.”
Siliguri is the entry point for getting to both Sikkim and Darjeeling as the road forms a Y right passed it and starts to get ever so narrow.
It has been suggested that people from Bangladesh desiring to travel to Gangtok from Dhaka, a popular tourist city in India’s northeastern state of Sikkim, will have to take a smaller bus from Siliguri to Gangtok as roads are mostly narrow in Sikkim.
Bangladesh and India had earlier decided to launch direct bus services on the Dhaka-Sikkim and Dhaka-Darjeeling routes.
The Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) ran a trial bus service from Dhaka on December 12, 2019, to Darjeeling and the Sikkim capital of Gangtok following the decision. The team returned in Dhaka on December 16.
The team recently submitted a report narrating their experiences and suggesting recommendations to the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry for sharing with the Indian government.
The report suggested that the Dhaka-Darjeeling route was not feasible for direct bus services as the road structure in Darjeeling is very narrow with risky bends. Darjeeling is about 7,000 feet above sea level.
The way to Gangtok is not so wide as well. Assessing the situation, the report suggested launching a Dhaka-Siliguri direct bus service.
Although road connectivity between Bangladesh and India already exists, it is not direct. Passengers have to change buses at the border. But under the new initiatives, passengers will not have to change buses.
“As the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) has been delayed due to Bhutan’s temporary withdrawal from the BBIN-MVA, we tried the Bangladesh-India-Nepal (BIN) agreement. But as Nepal also shied away from the proposal, we decided to do a bilateral agreement with India for smooth movements in India’s tourist spots,” said Ahsan Elahi, chairman, BRTC, who led the trial run to India.
“We have already sent a proposal to the Indian government regarding the bilateral deal,” he added.
“If India agrees to sign the deal, then a protocol would also need to be signed between the two countries regarding a direct bus service,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Chandan Kumar Dey, a member of the Thematic Group on Regional Connectivity at the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry, told Dhaka Tribune, “It takes more than three months to complete the procedure of a deal and the signing of the protocol.”
The BBIN countries signed the Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) for free movement of goods and passengers among the four countries on June 15, 2015. But Bhutan could not have the deal ratified by its parliament.
The trial bus service on the Bangladesh-India-Nepal route was flagged off on April 23. The Bangladesh representatives on the trial bus service suggested that the Nepal government improve road infrastructure as the country’s roads were not smooth for plying. The Nepal government is yet to implement the recommendations and upgrade the roads.