Mangan: Four people died in a fatal road mishap when their vehicle fell in Meyong River in Mangan-Chungthang axis in North Sikkim on Friday morning. 

The ill-fated SUV plying to Siliguri from Chungthang had Ramesh Chandra Verma (38), Vandana Singam (32), residents of Bihar, driver Sonam Lepcha (38) and Lakpa Dorjee Lepcha (27), both residents of Chungthang in North Sikkim, all of whom died in the accident.

The vehicle belongs to Teesta Urja Private Limited. The Mangan Police Station and Chungthang PS along with North Sikkim Tourist Driver Association and locals jointly carried out a search and rescue operation on the river and recovered the bodies. 

Earlier this week on May 29, five tourists from Maharashtra and a local driver were involved in a similar road accident in Khedung near Lachung in North Sikkim.

The State Tourism Department and North District Administration had expressed sorrow on the previous accident in Khedung. However, no counter measures have been carried out to ensure safety of commute for passengers in North Sikkim.

A senior police officer, on the previous accident, had stated in anonymity, “What we have noticed during the tourist season is that vehicles do not undergo necessary maintenance work. Once they visit or make frequent visits to various locations ferrying tourists in the state, they must keep a day for such maintenance but sadly that doesn’t happen. Hence, resulting in frequent accidents.”

The drivers, on the other hand, blame the dismal condition of roads and lack of barricades in steep roads and cliffs in North Sikkim or any other part of the state.

“The tourists, locals and even the state administration are quick to blame a driver for such accidents. It may not always be the fault of the driver, sometimes it’s the condition of the roads as well. The roads in North Sikkim or any other rural area we commute through to reach tourist destinations have dismal road conditions with lack of barricades,” said a local driver, wishing to remain anonymous.

TT Lepcha, signatory to Sikkim Tripartite Accord Agreement, no more

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