11 months ago
Reaching Sandakpur through Nepal by road
ILAM, March 24: Rich in biodiversity and natural beauty and situated at the hight of 3,636 meter, Sandakpur in Ilam district is a popular tourist destination. Every year thousands of do mestic and international tourists visit this place in order to get the view of beautiful mountain ranges.
One of the attractions for tourists to this area is that mountain ranges of Nepal, India and Bhutan can be viewed from the single location that is Sandakpur.
Linking of Sandakpur through Nepal’s roads has now encouraged the visitors. In the past, people had to use the route of around four kilometers of road section in India to reach Sandakpur. Now the tourists have been get rid of harassment by Indian security personnel while traveling through Indian territory.
Elated locals’ happiness however didn’t last long as the government introduced a policy of banning old vehicles from plying the roads.
“Domestic tourists are now quite happy as they can reach Sandakpur from within Nepal and that has also helped in increasing the number of domestic tourists too. However, we have faced a new problem due to government’s new policy of banning vehicles older than 20 years,” shared Pemdandu Sherpa, owner of Sherpa Chalet Hotel, Sandakpur. He said that has affected Sandakpur’s tourism that had just started to boom. Tourists have now faced lack of vehicles to reach the area due to new government policy, he said.
After years-long efforts, it has been possible to ply the vehicles even during winter along the new road, he said. “However, due to the government’s new policy of banning vehicles older than 20 years from April 14, tourists are now forced to walk to reach the destination,” he added. Only vehicles such as Land Rover can reach in the hill area and tourists now can’t use the vehicles because the Land Rovers used in the area are old ones. And those who want to visit the place have been facing difficulties. “We were just feeling glad about the new road connection but that didn’t last long due to ban of old vehicles,” said a local Amrit Rai.
The weather at Sandakpur is mostly cold and the environment here gives visitors a sense of freshness. Every year thousands of Indian tourists visit this area. There are more than a dozen of hotels on the Indian side while only few hotels are available on the Nepal side. Moreover, tourists from South Asian countries usually visit Sandakpur via Indian route. According to the Indian enterprenures Sandakpur is the spot for Indians from where they can see the range of Mount Everest. And those tourists who come from Indian side with information and knowledge about Sandakpur don’t want to miss the opportunity of visiting the place, he said. Interestingly, the Indians are using vehicles older than 20 years while Nepali authorities have started to prohibit similar vehicles to travel the same area.
Local businesspersons and entrepreneurs aren’t convinced by the government statement that they had to enforce the new policy to reduce air pollution.
“The officials who introduced new law formulated the act keeping the city areas in mind which is not only impractical for rural areas but also badly hampered businesses in far-flung areas that have just started to gather momentum,” lamented Grishma Subba, president of Eastern Jeep and Taxi Enterprenure Association. “The officials have failed to differentiate the condition of vehicles that are used carelessly and those used properly because the vehicles that are maintained properly remain in good condition even after 20 years.” He said the new policy has badly hampered the tourism sector in rural areas such as Sandakpur in eastern part of the country.
Former Prime Minister, Jhala Nath Khanal, who visited Sandakpur area to observe the situation there, assured the locals of supporting them in their demand of lifting the ban on old vehicles mainly in the rural areas.
“Government should adopt practical approach and understand the problem faced by general public and allow the vehicles after checking their exact condition,” said UML leader Khanal. “I have talked to the minister who is overseeing the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport about this issue and will continuously follow this matter.”
Khanal used four Land Rover vehicles to travel to Sandakpur on Tuesday as other vehicles cannot reach there. He said it was important “for me to come here but other vehicles cannot reach here so I had to use Land Rovers.”
He suggested to the local level representatives to prepare a proposal for the development of this place. “If local representatives come up with a clear proposal about the need and plan of tourism development in this place, I will give my 100 percent support to make it possible,” he said.