Bengal-Sikkim Government entered into a fresh “Reciprocal Transport Agreement, 2022”, on the 5th of July, 2022 at Siliguri, West Bengal. The signing of the Agreement was held between the Transport Secretaries of the two States in presence of Shri Sanjeet Kharel, Hon’ble Minister in Charge, Transport Department, Sikkim and Shri Firhad Hakim, Hon’ble Minister in Charge, Transport Department, West Bengal.
The new agreement is the result of a series of review meetings between the senior officers of both the States of West Bengal-Sikkim held in Darjeeling on 26.12.21 and Kolkatta on 25.04.22 and takes care of the long pending demand of the transporters of both the States.
Sikkim, being a land locked State is largely dependent on tourism and the Transport Department, Government of Sikkim acknowledges the help extended by the Transport Department, Government of West Bengal by agreeing to all the demands of the transporters of both the States and wishes to thank the Hon’ble Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Sikkim, Madam, Mamta Banerjee and Shri Prem Singh Tamang, Hon’ble Transport Ministers, Shri Firhad Hakim and Shri Sanjeet Kharel, for their continued guidance and support.
In the new agreement, for the sake of ease of doing business and for the benefit of transporters of both the States, some new initiatives and inclusions have been made. Both the States have agreed to grant All Bengal and All Sikkim countersignature permits (except restricted and protected areas). However, it has been agreed and decided that the local sightseeing shall be done by the local tour operators of both the States as per the practice as prevalent in the past. The State of West Bengal has also agreed to grant the corridor facility for vehicles plying within Sikkim through the Rangpo Melli corridor in West Bengal without a countersignature permit. The quota for separate goods carriage permits for Darjeeling district, Jalpaiguri district and All Bengal have now been merged into a single permit to be issued from the State Transport Authority office in Siliguri and as per the demand of the Transport Associations, the quota of countersignature permits have been enhanced which will be beneficial for the transporters of both the States.
The earlier agreement had expired and the transport operators had been facing problems from both sides of Sikkim-Bengal.
“The movement of buses will be regularised due to the agreement and North Bengal State Transport Corporation is also planning to introduce more bus services to Sikkim,” the minister said Bengal Minister.
He added that the Bengal government is always supportive of the neighboring states and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee always emphasizes on how services can be developed with small states like Sikkim. “We are supportive to all the seven sister states as Bengal is the corridor”, Hakim added. He expressed optimism that the best of the relationship between Sikkim-Bengal will be developed through initiatives like this. Hakim was supposed to travel to Sikkim for the agreement but could not do so because of inclement weather conditions.