Sikkim-West Bengal sign new reciprocal transport agreement

Siliguri: Sikkim and West Bengal have in-principle agreed to a new Reciprocal Transport Agreement (2022) after factoring in all problems with the existing 2007 agreement. After 15 years, the demands of the transporters of both the states of West Bengal and Sikkim have been realised.

The new Reciprocal Transport Agreement (2022) will include ‘All Bengal’ and ‘All Sikkim’ permit against the earlier agreed permits for only Gangtok, Namchi and Pelling in Sikkim and Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Siliguri in West Bengal, which caused problems for transporters of both the states.

Under the new agreement, an ‘All Bengal Permit’ and ‘All Sikkim Permit’ will be issued except in restricted and protected areas, thereby solving the problems of transporters of both states.

However, as per the earlier practice and as also discussed in the review meeting on Tuesday in Sukna, local sightseeing will be done by the local tour operators of both states.

In the earlier agreement for goods carriages, separate quotas had been fixed for Darjeeling district, Jalpaiguri district and All Bengal Permit. Also, Sikkim transporters had to obtain two counter signature permits from both Darjeeling district as well as Jalpaiguri district. While Siliguri is under the Darjeeling district, a portion of it also comes under the Jalpaiguri district.

The transport associations from Sikkim had submitted numerous representations to merge all the quotas and have permits issued from a single point of the STA office in Siliguri.

Now, in the new agreement, all Counter Signature Permits will be issued from a single point office of the State Transport Authority in Siliguri and transporters will not have to go to Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri separately.

The commercial vehicles plying between Gangtok and Jorethang in South Sikkim pass through a part of the route falling in West Bengal. Vehicles plying between Rangpo and Melli often faced difficulties for not having the counter signature permits.

Now in the new agreement, the WB Government has agreed to grant a corridor facility between Rangpo and Melli on the West Bengal side for Sikkim-based commercial vehicles to ply on the route sans a Counter Signature Permit.

The gross vehicle weight of vehicles plying under the Counter Signature Permits has been enhanced from 16,200 kilograms in the previous agreement to 18500 kilograms in the new agreement.

There was a huge demand from the transporters of both the states to increase the quota of permits. Now, both the states have mutually agreed to enhance the quota as per the demand of the market.

The previous RTA for West Bengal for Goods Carriages at Rs. 600 has now been raised to Rs. 700. For Sikkim, the same has increased from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1100. For Tankers plying from West Bengal, the rate was Rs. 109 which has now been increased to Rs. 150. Similarly for Sikkim, the rate has been changed from Rs. 218 to Rs. 225. For contract carriages, both the states were paying Rs. 2500 previously. After a hike of Rs. 500, both the States will now pay Rs. 3000.

The meeting between the two states had the attendance of Sikkim’s Transport Minister Sanjeet Kharel along with department secretary Raj Yadav. Minister incharge for Transport Firhad Hakim and principal secretary Rajesh Kumar Sinha represented the Bengal side at the meeting held at a hotel in Sukna, North Bengal on Tuesday evening.

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