Darjeeling ( Part 3 )

Karishma Mishra
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Civil utilitiesEdit

Mall Road

Natural springs in the Senchal Range provide most of Darjeeling's water supply. Water collected is routed through stone conduits to two lakes that were constructed in 1910 and 1932, from where it is piped to the town after purification at the Jorebungalow filtration plant.[51] During the dry season, when water supplied by springs is insufficient, water is pumped from Khong Khola, a nearby small perennial stream. Increasing demand has led to a worsening shortfall in water supply; just over 50% of the town's households are connected to the municipal water supply system.[32] Various efforts made to augment the water supply, including the construction of a third storage reservoir in 1984, have failed to yield desired results.[51]

The town has an underground sewage system, covering about 40% of the town area, that collects domestic waste and conveys it to septic tanks for disposal.[52] Solid waste is disposed of in a nearby dumping ground, which also houses the town's crematorium.[52] Doorstep collection of garbage and segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste have been implemented since 2003.[53] Vermicomposting of vegetable waste is carried out with the help of non-governmental organisations.[54] In June 2009, in order to reduce waste, the municipality proposed a ban on plastic carrier bags and sachets in the town.[55]

From 1897 to the early 1990s, Darjeeling was powered by hydroelectricity from the nearby Sidrapong Hydel Power Station, and it was the first town in India supplied with hydropower. Today, electricity is supplied by the West Bengal State Electricity Board from other locations. The town often suffers from power outages and the electrical supply voltage is unstable, making voltage stabilisers popular with many households. Almost all of the primary schools are now maintained by Darjeeling Gorkha Autonomous Hill Council. The total length of all types of roads within the municipal area is around 134 km (83 mi).[56] The West Bengal Fire Service provides emergency services for the town.

 

EconomyEdit

Plucking the tea leaves in the traditional fashion

The two most significant contributors to Darjeeling's economy are tourism and the tea industry. Darjeeling tea, due to the unique agro-climatic conditions of Darjeeling, has a distinctive natural flavour, is internationally reputed and recognised as a geographical indicator. The office of the Darjeeling Indian Tea Association (DITA) is located at Darjeeling.[4] Darjeeling produces 7% of India's tea output, approximately 9,000,000 kilograms (20,000,000 lb) every year.[30] The tea industry has faced competition in recent years from tea produced in other parts of India as well as other countries like Nepal.[57] Widespread concerns about labour disputes, worker layoffs and closing of estates have affected investment and production.[58] Several tea estates are being run on a workers' cooperative model, while others are being planned for conversion into tourist resorts.[58] More than 60% of workers in the tea gardens are women.[49] Besides tea, the most widely cultivated crops include maizemilletspaddycardamompotato and ginger.[59]

Darjeeling had become an important tourist destination as early as 1860.[17] It is reported to be the only location in eastern India that witnesses large numbers of foreign tourists.[30] It is also a popular filming destination for Bollywood and Bengali cinemaSatyajit Ray shot his film Kanchenjungha (1962) here, and his Feluda series story, Darjeeling Jomjomaat, was also set in the town. Bollywood movies such as Aradhana (1969), Main Hoon Na (2004), Parineeta (2005) and more recently Barfi! (2012) have been filmed here.

Tourism

Tourist inflow into Darjeeling had been affected by the political instability in the region, and agitations in the 1980s and 2000s hit the tourism industry hard.[30][62] However, since 2012, Darjeeling has once again witnessed a steady inflow of both domestic and international tourists. Presently, around 50,000 foreign and 500,000 domestic tourists visit Darjeeling each year,[63] and its repute as the "Queen of the Hills" remains unaltered. According to an India Today survey published on 23 December 2015, Darjeeling is the third most Googled travel destination among all the tourist destinations in India. Even though there are political instabilities in Darjeeling, its tourism rate is increasing year by year. Many visit this place for food specialities like momos, steamed stick rice, and other steamed foods famous in this region, as well as to see the natural beauty of the area.[64]

 

Transport

A train, hauled by a steam locomotive, running beside a road between two rows of buildings with a few people walking on the road.
The narrow gauge train often crisscrosses the street
Darjeeling "Toy Train"

Darjeeling can be reached by the 88 km (55 mi) long Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from New Jalpaiguri, or by National Highway 55, from Siliguri, 77 km (48 mi) away.[65][66] The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a 600 mm (2 ft) narrow-gauge railway that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999 for being "an outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of a multi-cultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world",[67] becoming only the second railway in the world to have this honour.[19][60] Bus services and hired vehicles connect Darjeeling with Siliguri and Darjeeling has road connections with BagdograGangtok and Kathmandu and the neighbouring towns of Kurseong and Kalimpong.[65] However, road and railway communications often get disrupted in the monsoons because of landslides. The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, located 90 km (56 mi) from Darjeeling.[65] Within the town, people usually traverse by walking. Residents also use two-wheelers and hired taxis for travelling short distances. The Darjeeling Ropeway, functional since 1968, was closed in 2003 after an accident killed four tourists.[68] It reopened in February 2012

Karishma Mishra
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